Ian H. Hutchinson

Ian H. Hutchinson

Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering





Cambridge University, B.A., Physics, (1972)
Cambridge University, M.A. (1975)
Australian National University, Ph.D., Engineering Physics (1976)

Professional Awards, Honors, and Activities

  • University of Cambridge Open Scholarship, 1969
  • John Hughes Scholarship, 1969
  • Keasby Bursary, 1970
  • Powell Prize for Physics, 1971
  • Cambridge University Senior Scholarship, 1971
  • British Commonwealth Scholarship, 1973
  • Australian National University Scholarship, 1973
  • MIT Graduate Student Council Teaching Award, 1988
  • MIT Spira award for Excellence in Teaching, 1999
  • MIT Spira award for Excellence in Teaching, 2013
  • Chairman American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics, 2008
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics
  • Fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation
  • International Advisory Board Member, "Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion" journal (current)
  • Board Member "Physical Review E" journal (current)


Computational Plasma Physics of Flowing Plasma Wakes

Plasma physics is the enabling science for fusion energy. It also governs most of the universe outside the earth's atmosphere, and some important phenomena inside. Many of the crucial scientific challenges to bringing the energy of the stars down to the human scale apply also to the behavior of space and astrophysical plasmas. A most fundamental problem is the interaction of flowing plasma with an obstacle such as a probe in the edge of a tokamak or a satelite or moon in the solar wind plasma. Understanding how the plasma currents are collected and how the plasma wake behaves is a long-standing theoretical topic that has progressed rapidly recently. The ability of computational models to represent accurately the dimensional complexity and nonlinearity has led to several fascinating discoveries. And there's much more to come by combining computational plasma physics with fundamental theory and experiment. MORE

Magnetic Confinement Fusion Plasma Flow and Impurities

In magnetically confined plasmas such as tokamaks, the plasma has been found to produce spontaneous flow. Flow plays a vital role in regulating the plasma turbulence and transport, and it also causes measurable impurity density gradients within the magnetic flux surfaces. A major area of challenge for understanding magnetic confinement is therefore to understand the mechanisms, including turbulence, that control the flow. Impurity measurements provide an important diagnostic that helps us to understand flow, and controlling impurities is essential to making fusion work.



"A Student's Guide to Numerical Methods", Ian H Hutchinson, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2015).

"Monopolizing Knowledge", Ian Hutchinson, Fias Publishing, Belmont (2011).

"Principles of Plasma Diagnostics", I.H.~Hutchinson, Cambridge University Press, New York (1987). Second edition (2002).

Technical Journal Articles

"Kinetic electron and ion instability of the lunar wake simulated at physical mass ratio", Christian B Haakonsen; Ian H Hutchinson; Chuteng Zhou, Physics of Plasmas {\bf 22} (2015) 032311.

"Poloidal asymmetries in edge transport barriers" R. M. Churchill, C. Theiler, B. Lipschultz, I. H. Hutchinson, M. L. Reinke, D. Whyte, J. W. Hughes, P. Catto, M.  Landreman, D. Ernst, C. S. Chang, R. Hager, A. Hubbard, P. Ennever, J. R. Walk, and Alcator C-Mod Team, Physics of Plasmas, 22 (2015) 056104

"Poloidal variation of high-Z impurity density due to hydrogen minority ion cyclotron resonance heating on Alcator C-Mod" M L Reinke, I H Hutchinson, J E Rice, N T Howard, A Bader, S Wukitch, Y Lin, D C Pace, A Hubbard, J W Hughes and Y Podpaly , Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion, 54, 045004 (2012)

"Forces on a Small Grain in the Nonlinear Plasma Wake of Another", I H Hutchinson, Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 095001 (2011)

 "Oblique ion collection in the drift approximation: How magnetized Mach probes really work", I.H.Hutchinson, Phys. Plasmas, 15, 123503, (2008).

"Self-Acceleration of a Tokamak Plasma during Ohmic H Mode," I.H. Hutchinson, J.E. Rice, R.S. Granetz, J.A. Snipes, Phys. Rev. Lett., {\bf 84} No. 15 (2000) 3330.

"First Results from Alcator C-Mod," I. H. Hutchinson, R. Boivin, F. Bombarda, et al., (C-Mod Group), Physics of Plasmas, 1, 1511 (1994).

Essays and Presentations

"Understanding plasma flow interactions with dust and probes by simulation", Plenary invited talk, 15th Latin American Workshop on Plasma Physics, Costa Rica, 27 Jan 2014.

"The Genius and Faith of Faraday and Maxwell", New Atlantis Magazine, Winter 2014 issue.

Public Broadcast debate on the motion "Science refutes God". Intelligence Squared, 6 Dec 2012

"Scientism and the Technological Fix" Technology and Human Flourishing, Baylor University Symposium on Faith and Culture, 26 Oct 2012

"Scientism. How much faith should we put in science?" Faraday Lecture, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, 15 Oct 2012

"Can science explain everything?" American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion, 6 Dec 2011

"Warfare and Wedlock: redeeming the faith-science relationship", Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 59, 2, 91 (2007)


22.15 Essential Numerical Methods

22.62 Fusion Energy

22.611 Introduction to Plasma Physics