Brian LaBombard

Brian LaBombard

Senior Research Scientist





Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sc.D., Nuclear Engineering, Applied Plasma Physics (1986)
University of Lowell, Massachusetts, B.S., summa cum laude, Nuclear Engineering (1978)


Boundary and divertor plasma physics for magnetic confinement fusion; plasma diagnostics.



Dr. LaBombard’s research has led to seminal contributions: uncovering ‘main-chamber recycling’ and revealing intermittent, non-diffusive transport as the underlying cause; identifying edge plasma transport and its collisionality scaling as a key ingredient in tokamak density limit physics; demonstrating that ballooning-like transport asymmetries drive near-sonic flows in the plasma edge and that such transport-driven flows impose a toroidal rotation boundary condition for the confined plasma; uncovering evidence that pressure gradients are constrained near the last-closed flux surface, being clamped at a ‘critical value’ that scales with poloidal magnetic field squared and varies with plasma collisionality. These observations broadly connect with state-of-the-art simulations of plasma turbulence, pointing toward a first-principles understanding of the underlying physics, including the physics of the density limit. Dr. LaBombard has developed a new research tool, the Mirror Langmuir Probe, to explore boundary plasma transport with unprecedented detail.

Most recently, Dr. LaBombard has turned attention to finding solutions for handling extreme levels of plasma heat exhaust from a fusion reactor, proposing the “X-point target divertor “ concept and developing ideas for a national Advanced Divertor and rf tokamak eXperiment (ADX) that would access reactor-level divertor conditions to develop, test and demonstrate state-of-the-art divertor and RF actuator technologies.



LaBombard, B., Marmar, E., Irby, J., Terry, J.L., Vieira, R., Wallace, G., Whyte, D.G., Wolfe, S., Wukitch, S., Baek, S., Beck, W., Bonoli, P., Brunner, D., Doody, J., Ellis, R., Ernst, D., Fiore, C., Freidberg, J.P., Golfinopoulos, T., Granetz, R., Greenwald, M., Hartwig, Z.S., Hubbard, A., Hughes, J.W., Hutchinson, I.H., Kessel, C., Kotschenreuther, M., Leccacorvi, R., Lin, Y., Lipschultz, B., Mahajan, S., Minervini, J., Mumgaard, R., Nygren, R., Parker, R., Poli, F., Porkolab, M., Reinke, M.L., Rice, J., Rognlien, T., Rowan, W., Shiraiwa, S., Terry, D., Theiler, C., Titus, P., Umansky, M., Valanju, P., Walk, J., White, A., Wilson, J.R., Wright, G., and Zweben, S.J., "ADX: a high field, high power density, advanced divertor and RF tokamak," Nucl. Fusion 55 (2015) 053020.

LaBombard, B., Golfinopoulos, T., Terry, J.L., Brunner, D., Davis, E., Greenwald, M., Hughes, J.W., and Alcator C-Mod Team, "New insights on boundary plasma turbulence and the quasi-coherent mode in Alcator C-Mod using a Mirror Langmuir Probe," Phys. Plasmas 21 (2014) 056108.

LaBombard, B., Hughes, J.W., Mossessian, D., Greenwald, M., Lipschultz, B., and Terry, J.L., "Evidence for electromagnetic fluid drift turbulence controlling the edge plasma state in the Alcator C-Mod tokamak," Nucl. Fusion 45 (2005) 1658.

LaBombard, B., Rice, J.E., Hubbard, A.E., Hughes, J.W., Greenwald, M., Irby, J.H., Lin, Y., Lipschultz, B., Marmar, E.S., Smick, N., Wolfe, S.M., and Wukitch, S.J., "Transport-Driven Scrape-off Layer Flows and the Boundary Conditions Imposed at the Magnetic Separatrix in a Tokamak Plasma," Nucl. Fusion 44 (2004) 1047.

LaBombard, B., Boivin, R.L., Greenwald, M., Hughes, J., Lipschultz, B., Mossessian, D., Pitcher, C.S., Terry, J.L., and Zweben, S.J., "Particle transport in the scrape-off layer and its relationship to discharge density limit in Alcator C-Mod," Phys. Plasmas 8 (2001) 2107.

LaBombard, B., Umansky, M.V., Boivin, R.L., Goetz, J.A., Hughes, J., et al., "Cross-field plasma transport and main-chamber recycling in diverted plasmas on Alcator C-Mod," Nuclear Fusion 40 (2000) 2041.

LaBombard, B., Goetz, J.A., Hutchinson, I., Jablonski, D., Kesner, J., Kurz, C., Lipschultz, B., McCracken, G.M., Niemczewski, A., Terry, J., Allen, A., Boivin, R.L., Bombarda, F., Bonoli, P., Christensen, C., Fiore, C., Garnier, D., Golovato, S., Granetz, R., Greenwald, M., Horne, S., Hubbard, A., Irby, J., Lo, D., Lumma, D., Marmar, E., May, M., Mazurenko, A., Nachtrieb, R., Ohkawa, H., O'Shea, P., Porkolab, M., Reardon, J., Rice, J., Rost, J., Schachter, J., Snipes, J., Sorci, J., Stek, P., Takase, Y., Wang, Y., Watterson, R., Weaver, J., Welch, B., and Wolfe, S., "Experimental investigation of transport phenomena in the scrape-off layer and divertor," J. Nucl. Mater. 241-243 (1997) 149.

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Talks & Media

“Thinking outside the box: New integrated approaches are needed to solve divertor, main chamber and steady state sustainment challenges for fusion”  
Review talk at the 1st IAEA Technical Meeting on  Divertor Concepts, 29 Sept – 2 October 2015, Vienna, Austria MORE 
Abstract (pdf)  
Presentation (pdf) 

"Alcator C-Mod and ADX: Research on the High-Field Pathway to Fusion Energy"
Invited talk at the 26th IEEE Symposium on Fusion Engineering (SOFE), May 31-June 4, 2015, Austin, Texas USA MORE
Abstract (pdf)  
Presentation (pdf) 

"MIT's High Field Research on the Fast Track to Fusion Electricity — Alcator C-Mod and ADX"  
MIT IAP Seminar, January 16, 2015.
Presentation (pdf)  

"ADX: a High Field, High Power Density, Advanced Divertor Test Facility. Mission: Develop and demonstrate plasma exhaust, plasma-material interaction and RF current drive/heating solutions that scale to long pulse at FNSF/DEMO parameters."
Presented at the IAEA 25th Fusion Energy Conference (FEC2014), St. Pettersburg, Russia, 13-18 October 2014 MORE

“New insights on boundary plasma turbulence and the Quasi-Coherent Mode in Alcator C-Mod using a Mirror Langmuir Probe"
Invited talk at the 55th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics, November 11–15, 2013; Denver, Colorado.
Presentation (pdf)  
Press Release (pdf)