Paul Bonoli

Paul Bonoli

Senior Research Scientist

Head, Plasma Theory and Computation





Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), Electrical Engineering, B.S. (1976)
Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), Electrical Engineering, M.S. (1978)
Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), Electrical Engineering, Ph.D. (1981)


Theory and computation of radio-frequency wave-particle interactions.


Paul Bonoli specializes in theoretical and computational plasma physics in the areas of radio-frequency (RF) heating and current drive in toroidal confinement devices (tokamaks). He has developed detailed simulation models for RF heating and current drive experiments, especially in the lower hybrid range of frequencies (LHRF). These models include integrated wave propagation, Fokker Planck, and transport calculations and they have been used throughout the international fusion community. More recently he has worked on the development of large parallel frameworks and their application to integrated whole device modeling. Paul is also quite active in the use of massively parallel computing architectures to perform full-wave electromagnetic field simulations in the LH regime and to study mode conversion processes in the ion cyclotron range of frequencies (ICRF). This work has been done in close collaboration with John Wright of the PSFC Theory Group. Throughout his career, Paul has had a special interest in the problem of the “lower hybrid (LH) spectral gap” that is ubiquitous to LH current drive experiments. In these experiments, LH waves are observed to damp efficiently and drive current despite the fact that the waves are injected at phase speeds where the population of electrons is too small to observe electron Landau damping.


“Review of recent experimental and modeling progress in the lower hybrid range of frequencies at ITER relevant parameters”, P. T. Bonoli, The Physics of Plasmas 21, 061508 (2014).

“Time dependent evolution of RF-generated non-thermal particle distributions in fusion plasmas”, J. C. Wright, A. Bader, L. A. Berry, P. T. Bonoli, R. W. Harvey, E. F. Jaeger, J.-P. Lee, A. Schmidt, E. D’Azevedo, I. Faust, C. K. Phillips, and E. Valeo, Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 56, 045007 (2014).

“Investigation of lower hybrid physics through power modulation experiments on Alcator C-Mod”, A. Schmidt, P. T. Bonoli, O. Meneghini, R. R. Parker, M. Porkolab, S. Shiraiwa, G. Wallace, J. C. Wright, R. W. Harvey, and J. R. Wilson, Physics of Plasmas 18, 056122 (2011).

“Absorption of lower hybrid waves in the scrape off layer of a diverted tokamak”, G. M. Wallace, R. R. Parker, P. T. Bonoli, A. E. Hubbard, J. W. Hughes, B. L. LaBombard, O. Meneghini, A. E. Schmidt, S. Shiraiwa, D. G. Whyte, J. C. Wright, S. J. Wukitch, R. W. Harvey, A. P. Smirnov, and J. R. Wilson, Physics of Plasmas 17, 082508 (2010).

“An assessment of full wave effects on the propagation and absorption of lower hybrid waves”, J. C. Wright, P. T. Bonoli, A. E. Schmidt, C. K. Phillips, E. Valeo, R. W. Harvey, and M. Brambilla, Physics of Plasmas 16, 072502 (2009).

“Lower hybrid current drive experiments on Alcator C-Mod: Comparison with theory and simulation”, P. T. Bonoli, J. Ko, R. Parker, A. E. Schmidt, G. M. Wallace, J. C. Wright, C. L. Fiore, A. E. Hubbard, J. Irby, E. Marmar, M. Porkolab, D. Terry, S. M. Wolfe, S. J. Wukitch, the Alcator C-Mod Team, J. R. Wilson, S. Scott, E. Valeo, C. K. Phillips, and R. W. Harvey, Physics of Plasmas 15, 056117 (2008).

Talks & Media

"Importance of Advanced Computers and Computation to Fusion Development", Fusion Power Associates, 36th Annual Meeting and Symposium on Strategies to Fusion Power, Washington, DC, December 16-17, 2015.

“Novel Reactor Relevant RF Actuator Schemes for the Lower Hybrid and the Ion Cyclotron Range of Frequencies”, 56th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics, October 27-31, 2015, New Orleans, LA; Bulletin of the American Physical Society Volume 59, Number 15 (APS, NY, 2014), Invited Talk YI1.00001.

“Review of Recent Experimental and Modeling Progress in the Lower Hybrid Range of Frequencies at ITER Relevant Parameters”, 20th Topical Conference on Radiofrequency Power in Plasmas, June 25-28, 2013, Sorrento, Italy; AIP Conference Proceedings 1580, Eds. A. Tuccillo and S. Ceccuzzi, (Melville, NY, 2014), Invited Review Talk R2.