NEWS: Dennis Whyte

An large, flat, oval-shaped metal container with holes in the sides and a large magnet inside placed around a post.

Tests show high-temperature superconducting magnets are ready for fusion

In the predawn hours of Sept. 5, 2021, engineers achieved a major milestone in the labs of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), when a new type of magnet, made from high-temperature superconducting material, achieved a world-record magnetic field strength of 20 tesla for a large-scale magnet. That’s the intensity needed to build a fusion power plant that is expected to produce a net output of power and potentially usher in an era of virtually limitless power production.

MIT News

A mid-plane view of the SPARC tokamak

New study shows how universities are critical to emerging fusion industry

A paper by Dennis Whyte, Carlos Paz-Soldan of Columbia University, and Brian D. Wirth of the University of Tennessee Knoxville explores academia's role in the development of fusion energy. The authors cite additional fusion faculty, private industry collaborations, and creative licensing strategies as essential for enabling the sustainable growth of a commercial fusion industry.


A photo grid of six candid and portrait photographs featuring Dennis Whyte in 2011, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2023.

Dennis Whyte Steps Down as Director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Dennis Whyte, the Hitachi America Professor of Engineering in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, came to MIT in 2006 and has been director of the PSFC since 2015. Over the past nine years, the number of students at the PSFC has grown tremendously, as have the types of partnerships and breadth of research. After stepping down at the end of 2023, Whyte plans to focus on teaching, research, and entrepreneurship at the PSFC. The Vice President of Research is forming a search committee to identify the PSFC's next leader; if a new director isn’t selected by 2024, an Interim Director will be appointed.


Tuba Balta at PSFC

Fusion’s new ambassador

High school student Tuba Balta engages new audiences through her MIT PSFC internship.


Dennis Whyte and Bob Mumgaard in experimental environment

Practically changing the world

PSFC Director Dennis Whyte received  a 2022 University of Saskatchewan Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his significant accomplishments since graduating from USask.

University of Saskatchewan News

Diagram of SPARC tokamak

Turning neutrons into fusion fuel

“One of the things that you get good at while at MIT,” says PSFC research scientist Sara Ferry, “is being able to start from nothing on a particular system or skill and knowing how to approach it in a way that’s effective.”


Zoe Fisher in the laboratory

Finding her way to fusion

Zoe Fisher's undergraduate research journey leads to a role working on the SPARC tokamak.


20T magnet Demo Event Highlights, MIT

VIDEO: Highlights of the MIT-CFS 20T Magnet Demo event

On Sunday, September 5, 2021, a large-bore, high temperature superconducting magnet designed and built by CFS and MIT reached a field of 20 tesla. It paves the way to building SPARC and commercializing fusion energy. These are highlights from the Live-Streamed 20 Tesla HTS Magnet Demo Event

HTS Magnet, MIT

VIDEO: Unlocking SPARC: HTS Magnet for Commercial Fusion Applications

An animation of how the high temperature superconducting (HTS) fusion magnet built by MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS)was tested. Reaching a field of 20 tesla, it is the most powerful superconducting magnet in the world and a key technology in SPARC, a compact, high-field tokamak that will produce net energy from fusion.

Star in a bottle, MIT

VIDEO: A Star in a Bottle: The Quest for Commercial Fusion

On Sept. 5, 2021, for the first time, a large high-temperature superconducting electromagnet was ramped up to a field strength of 20 tesla, the most powerful magnetic field of its kind ever created on Earth. That successful demonstration by the PSFC and CFS helps resolve the greatest uncertainty in the quest to build the world’s first fusion power plant that can produce more power than it consumes.

Vinny Fry, MIT

Wired for Success

MIT engineer, Vinny Fry is preparing to help test SPARC’s Toroidal Field Magnet Coil (TFMC), a scaled prototype for the HTS magnets that will surround the tokamak’s toroidal vacuum chamber to confine the plasma.


Diagram of ARCH concept

On course to create a fusion power plant

Since taking on course 22.63 (Principles of Fusion Engineering) over a decade ago Prof. Dennis Whyte has moved away from standard lectures, prodding the class to work collectively on  “real world” issues. The course has been instrumental in guiding the real future of fusion at the PSFC.


David Fischer, MIT

Pushing the envelope with fusion magnets

Postdoctoral associate David Fischer's research focuses on observing ways irradiation damages the thin high-temperature superconductor tapes in the design of ARC, a fusion pilot plant concept.