The DIII-D facility is pursuing an initiative to explore frontier and discovery plasma science. The goal is to execute studies that may provide significant and distinctive advances in US plasma science in fields that are beyond the usual remit of the DIII-D fusion energy oriented research program.

This aims to exploit DIII-D unique parameter access and innovative diagnostics to complement, augment or extend work pursued in the wider Frontiers community, making key tests of theories and answering important frontiers questions. It is also hoped that the cross-fertilization between fields will be extremely valuable in stimulating scientists, leading to new ideas and ways of thinking, and developing deeper understanding of underlying plasma physics phenomena, which share many common foundations between fusion and frontiers science.

The first such campaign was held in 2017, and went well, resulting in good results four selected proposals, including a post-deadline invited talk at the 2017 APS-DPP meeting by Don Spong. A further campaign is planned for 2018, with planning starting at the APS-DPP fall meeting. Flyers explaining these campaigns and outreach are provided here

Key features of the campaigns so far are:

  • Oversight by a panel of university professors plus advise from key DIII-D experts
    • Frontiers: T Carter (UCLA – panel chair), J Egedal (UWisc), C Forest (UWisc), W Fox (PPPL), H Ji (PPPL), G Howes (U-Iowa), M Koepke (WVU), P Piovesan (CNR), J Sarff (U-Wisc), F Skiff (U-Iowa), D Spong (ORNL)
    • DIII-D support: RJ Buttery (General Atomics – honorary secretary & DIII-D Experimental Science Director), W. Heidbrink (UCI), G. McKee (U-Wisc), Max Fenstermacher (LLNL), plus wider support from DIII-D team members on specific experiments.
  • 2017 and 2018 campaigns have been a collaborative development of the program through panel discussion to learn the approach (we foresee 2019 being a more competitive and formal process).
    • Consult at APS-DPP meeting and panel outreach to solicit ideas.
    • Panel teleconferences to consider capability to execute ideas – how to make viable and impactful proposals.
    • Review proposals using standardized powerpoint template and agreed metrics. Compile comments and voting by panel.
    • Panel final down-selection and proposal for run allocation to DOE.
    • Once DOE go ahead given, appoint DIII-D contact to help support each experiment. Experiment proponents start to draft a “miniproposal” to specify experiment plan for execution.
    • Execute. Analyse. Report to DOE and internal meetings. Make publication plan.
  • 5 days of machine time were allocated in 2017. We held 2 of these in reserve, so that extra time can be more dynamically allocated to ensure successful completion of selected studies (as plasma and plant can often give some surprises). This worked well. We expect similar for 2018, though funding only secured after proposal and DOE approval.
    • DOE may provide funds for travel and subsistence for experiment participants.
  • Key metrics for proposal selection:
    • Significance for frontier science
    • Critical gap/extension of parameter space
    • Will it distinguish between two competing models
    • Likelihood of success
    • Is there a clear testable physics hypothesis
  • Experiments should be clearly different from present DIII-D research, led by different research scientist with a non-fusion goal. E.g.: astrophysics, space physics, solar wind, radiation belt, reconnection physics, turbulence, Alfvénic.