IAP Seminars

Held every January, the IAP is an opportunity for members of the MIT community to participate and learn about topics beyond their customary areas of interest. At the PSFC, IAP activities are organized around a set of seminars and tours which are targeted for audiences both inside and outside our Center.

Jan 28, 2022

The SPARC tokamak: Predicting performance in the world’s first burning plasma

Nathan Howard


The SPARC tokamak is scheduled to begin operation in 2025 and will later become the first tokamak to achieve burning plasma conditions.  Its success will pave the way to the realization of fusion as an energy source.   In this talk we will cover the need for fusion energy development and the high field path to fusion.  In particular, we will present a historical overview of the models used to predict tokamak performance and will highlight some of the cutting-edge work going on at MIT that has been used to predict SPARC and increase our confidence in SPARC’s success. For Zoom link contact: info@psfc.mit.edu

2:00pm  |  Virtual

Jan 27, 2022

The early 2022 fusion energy start-up landscape

Sam Wurzel

Technology to Market Advisor, ARPA-E, U.S. Department of Energy

Over the past five years the number of fusion energy startups has doubled and private funding going to fusion companies has grown by a much larger factor. This talk will provide an overview of the fusion energy startup landscape, a discussion of their various approaches to fusion energy, and the historical context. For Zoom link contact: info@psfc.mit.edu For Zoom link contact: info@psfc.mit.edu  

11:00am  |  Virtual

Jan 26, 2022

How to explain fusion energy to anyone

with children's book author Kathryn Hulick

Fusion energy is complicated. It involves ionized gases, superconducting magnets, tritium breeding, and more. Although the science behind all of this is indeed complex, it's also exciting. With some creativity and enthusiasm, you can explain fusion energy in a way that anybody can understand. That's exactly what Kathryn Hulick did in her new book for kids and teens, Welcome to the Future: Robot Friends, Fusion Energy, Pet Dinosaurs, and More. For Zoom link contact: info@psfc.mit.edu

11:00am  |  Virtual

Jan 25, 2022

Fusion while we’re young: UROPing at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Nuno Loureiro, Mike Short, and PSFC UROP students


As part of MIT’s UROP program, undergraduates have steadily contributed to progress in fusion energy research – advancing areas as varied as theoretical and computational plasma physics, material science, fusion diagnostics, magnet technology, and much more. Meet some of the PSFC’s current UROP students and learn how they are putting their stamp on the future of these exciting fields. Newly available undergraduate research opportunities, and how to apply, will be discussed.   For Zoom link contact: info@psfc.mit.edu

2:00pm  |  Virtual

Jan 21, 2022

The long road to 20 tesla on the SPARC Toroidal Field Model Coil: A magnet origin story

Zach Hartwig


This talk will attempt to map the century-long odyssey at MIT in high-field magnet research, development, and operations that laid the foundation for the success of the TFMC Project and then, with the technical and historical context firmly established, provide a more meaningful overview of the TFMC Project itself. For Zoom link contact: info@psfc.mit.edu

1:00pm  |  Virtual

Jan 18, 2022

Laboratory astrophysics: Studying the stuff of stars in the lab

Tim Johnson and Jacob Pearcy


Instabilities in the Crab Nebula jet; magnetic reconnection in the magnetopause; collisionless shocks in the universe, caused by supersonic plasma flows. These are just some of the astrophysical events  being studied at the PSFC using high-energy-density plasmas generated by laser facilities. Learn more about these phenomena and the laser facilities that support MIT's astrophysical research. Zoom Link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/91393398831?pwd=NWlhV21XMnlwbnJQMS9kTHFFWUZTZz09 Password: 620809  

10:00am  |  Virtual

Jan 11, 2022

Recent exciting fusion results in ICF: how MIT-PSFC contributed

Patrick Adrian and Neel Kabadi


Experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) have achieved a record 1.3 megajoule energy output substantially exceeding, for the first time, the energy absorbed by the fuel that was used to initiate the fusion process. Learn about these exciting results and how the Plasma Science and Fusion Center's High-Energy-Density Physics division contributed to this success. For Zoom link contact: info@psfc.mit.edu

10:00am  |  Virtual

Jan 28, 2021

Golden path towards realizing large-scale practical quantum computers

Hang Chi

Postdoctoral Fellow

Quantum computers, fully realized, are exponentially superior to their classical counterparts for advanced computational tasks such as cybersecurity, drug discovery and artificial intelligence. For decades the development of practical quantum processors has been hindered by the lack of high-fidelity qubits (quantum bits that hold information) where quantum states can be coherently controlled. In this seminar we will share with you the secrets of our golden path to realizing an energy efficient, economical and stable quantum computer.  For Zoom link contact info@psfc.mit.edu.

11:00am  |  Virtual

Jan 27, 2021

Topological phenomenon to drive the magical world of spintronics

Yasen Hou and Shu-Wei Wang

Postdoctoral Associate

Spintronic devices make use of electron spin to carry information, thereby offering significantly greater versatility and functionality to future information processing. The Moodera Laboratory is currently exploring a rich variety of exchange-coupled Tis, researching the interface-driven quantum phenomena in order to make strides towards the topology-tuned “magical world of spintronics.” We shall outline the field and path forward.  For Zoom link contact info@psfc.mit.edu.

11:00am  |  Virtual

Jan 21, 2021

Geothermal energy by a beam of millimeter waves

Paul Woskov


Deep geothermal heat can become a virtually limitless source of green energy.  Powerful millimeter-wave beams developed for fusion energy research will be applied to efficiently open boreholes in hard basement rock like a hot knife through butter.  For Zoom link contact info@psfc.mit.edu.  


Jan 19, 2021

SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus ion channel structures

Mei Hong


Researchers at MIT’s Hong Lab have determined the structures of a SARS-CoV-2 viroporin, the envelope protein E, and the influenza viroporin, M2, using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This molecular structural information sets the stage for developing antiviral drugs to inhibit these viroporins. For Zoom link contact info@psfc.mit.edu.

1:00pm  |  Virtual

Jan 15, 2021

The SPARC tokamak: towards a burning plasma in this decade

Pablo Rodriguez-Fernandez


This talk will introduce the key concepts required to understand magnetic fusion energy and will lay the foundations to the high-field path to fusion energy and the SPARC tokamak. For Zoom link contact info@psfc.mit.edu.

2:00pm  |  Virtual

Jan 14, 2021

A virtual tour of the MIT High-Energy-Density Physics Accelerator Lab

Maria Gatu Johnson


This presentation will give the audience a view into the MIT high-energy-density physics accelerator lab, illustrating its use for diagnostic development for OMEGA, NIF and Z. For Zoom link contact info@psfc.mit.edu.

2:00pm  |  Virtual

Jan 14, 2021

Exploring astrophysical phenomena with high-energy lasers in laboratory

Chikang Li


In this talk, we will discuss the physics and methodology for connecting laboratory experiments to astrophysical phenomena, highlighting several important experiments that have been the subject of recent publications. For Zoom link contact info@psfc.mit.edu.

11:00am  |  Virtual

Jan 11, 2021

Developing VASIMR®: historical perspective, present status, future plans

Franklin Chang Diaz

Ad Astra Rocket Company

This talk will cover the technical and programmatic milestones in the development of the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR®) from its early origins in the 1980s at MIT, through its formative years as a NASA project, to its technological maturation at Ad Astra Rocket Company. Chang-Diaz will discuss its present status, major challenges and the company’s current plans for full commercial deployment of the technology in support of a rapidly emerging space market.

2:00pm  |  Virtual

Jan 14–30, 2020

Build your own fusor

William Burke


Have you always wanted to build a Fusor, but couldn't find the time, the parts, or the vacuum?  You are in luck!


Jan 29, 2019

Machine learning guided discovery and design for inertial confinement fusion

Kelli Humbird

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments and their corresponding computer simulations produce an immense amount of rich data. However, quantitatively interpreting that data remains a grand challenge. Design spaces are vast, data volumes are large, and the relationship between models and experiments may be uncertain.

11:00am  |  NW17-218

Jan 23, 2019

The new Divertor Tokamak Test facility project

Piero Martin

University of Padova

This talk will briefly discuss the path which lead to the Divertor Tokamak Test (DTT) facility approval, give an overview of the DTT interim design and illustrate the present main physics and technical choices, the overall status of the project and the plan for the short and medium-term future.

11:00am  |  NW17-218

Jan 22, 2019

The MIT Fusion Landscape

Chaired by Dennis Whyte

In a series of lightning talks seven experts will discuss the current MIT Fusion Landscape. Topics will range from engineering and scientific underpinnings to finance, entrepreneurship and social impact. Join us to learn about MIT’s smarter, sooner path to fusion energy.

1:00pm  |  34-101

Jan 18, 2019

Tour of High-Energy-Density Physics Laboratory

Following the 11am seminar, this tour showcases Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) research at MIT. The PSFC High-Energy-Density Physics group has developed and/or calibrated a number of nuclear diagnostics installed on the OMEGA laser at the University of Rochester, NY, and on the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, CA, to study nuclear products generated in fusion reactions.

12:00pm  |  NW17-218

Jan 16, 2019

Design your own fusion plant with Excel

Dennis Whyte


Assigned to a team, you will be provided with rules and parameters for designing your own fusion power plant. After an allotted time, each team will submit their figures, to be entered into an Excel spread sheet that will show how successful the design is. The best result will win a prize. Please bring your lap top.

10:00am  |  NW17-218

Jan 15, 2019

Alcator C-Mod tour

Francesco Sciortino


Visit the Alcator C-Mod tokamak, a major fusion energy experiment that recently completed its final run with breakthrough results. Alcator C- Mod is the third in a series of tokamak devices at MIT that use very high magnetic fields to confine plasmas operating near 100,000,000 degrees.

1:00pm  |  NW17-218

Jan 15, 2019

Introduction to magnetic fusion and the SPARC project

Libby Tolman


This introduction to the science and technology underlying magnetic fusion energy will review the current state of research and provide an overview of MIT's SPARC project, designed to demonstrate net fusion energy.  

11:00am  |  NW17-218