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About the PSFC


The Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) seeks to provide research and educational opportunities for

MIT as seen from Boston, looking across the Charles river.

expanding the scientific understanding of the physics of plasmas, the "fourth state of matter," and to use that knowledge to develop useful applications. The central focus of PSFC activities has been to create a scientific and engineering base for the development of fusion power. Nevertheless, non-fusion applications involving plasmas at the PSFC are numerous and diverse. A recent example is the significant growth of programs in plasma-based technologies, including environmental remediation and hydrogen production.


The Plasma Science and Fusion Center is recognized as the leading university laboratory in developing the scientific and engineering aspects of magnetic confinement fusion and related plasma science and technology. Its research programs continue to produce significant results in several areas:

  • Experimental confinement research on the Alcator C-Mod tokamak (investigations of the stability, heating, and transport properties of plasmas);
  • The basic physics of plasmas (plasma theory, new confinement concepts, nonneutral plasmas, coherent EM wave generation, development of high-temperature plasma diagnostics, basic laboratory and ionospheric plasma physics experiments, and novel diagnostic for inertial fusion experiments);
  • A broad program of fusion technology and engineering development that addresses problems in several areas (magnetic systems, superconducting materials, fusion environmental and safety studies, system studies of fusion reactors, including operational and technological requirements);
  • A program of research on the physics of beams and the generation of coherent electromagnetic radiation, including research on gyrotrons for plasma heating, novel vacuum electron devices, high power microwave sources, innovative microwave structures such as the photonic bandgap structure and high gradient accelerators.
  • A growing involvement with environmental monitoring and waste treatment using plasmas. Additional programs include hydrogen generation by means of the "plasmatron" concept.


Founded in 1976, the Center consolidated research carried out in MIT's academic departments, the Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory, and the Research Lab for Electronics. The laboratory was originally known as The Plasma Fusion Center. Our new name more accurately defines the broad range of plasma science related research and education for which the Center has become known.


There are approximately 270 personnel associated with PSFC research activities. These include faculty and senior academic staff, research scientists and engineers, visiting scientists and research affiliates, technical support personnel, administrative and support staff. It also includes graduate students and undergraduate students, from Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Science and Engineering, and Physics.


A PSFC organizational chart illustrates the structure of the Center.

PSFC Progress Report ’08


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massachusetts institute of technology