News and Events

U.S. Burning Plasma Organization eNews

July 1, 2020 (Issue 146)

USBPO Mission Statement: Advance the scientific understanding of burning plasmas and ensure the greatest benefit from a burning plasma experiment by coordinating relevant U.S. fusion research with broad community participation.


Director’s Corner
C.M. Greenfield
Contact and Contribution Information  

Director’s Corner

Chuck Greenfield, US BPO DIrector

Life and fusion research continue…

I hope you are staying safe and healthy. Like many of you, working at home has become a “new normal.” But work progresses on ITER and on our large domestic facilities (DIII-D and NSTX-U), and we’re all learning to be productive while working remotely. The bright side to this is that we’re developing capabilities now that may be quite valuable when ITER starts operating and many of us are participating from thousands of miles away.

Research in Support of ITER contributed oral session at the Memphis Cyberspace APS-DPP Conference

The thirteenth annual Research in Support of ITER session has now been organized (see below). Thanks to everybody who requested a slot; unfortunately, we couldn’t accept all of the proposals for this 15-talk session. As you’ll notice, we have assembled quite an international session for this year’s meeting.

As you’ve no doubt already heard, the APS Division of Plasma Physics annual meeting will now be held remotely. We hope you’ll tune in for this interesting and informative session.


Larry Baylor (ORNL)


Research on Disruption Mitigation Enabled by Shattered Pellet Injection Systems on DIII-D, JET, and KSTAR in Support of ITER

Woong Chae Kim (NFRI)


Progress of Disruption mitigation with SPI and integration of real-time diagnostics for DECAF in KSTAR

Dmitrii Kiramov (Texas)


Pellet sublimation and expansion under runaway electron flux

Yipo Zhang (SWIP)


Progress in Disruption Mitigation on the HL-2A tokamak

Charlson Kim (SLS2)


NIMROD Shattered Pellet Injection Simulations

Michael Faitsch (MPI)


Broadening of the power fall-off length in a high density, high confinement H-mode regime in ASDEX Upgrade

Curtis Johnson (Auburn)


Diagnosing metastable populations in fusion edge plasmas using collisional-radiative modeling constrained by experimental observations with extrapolation to ITER parameter space

Nikolai Gorelenkov (PPPL)


Microturbulence-mediated route for stronger energetic ion transport and Alfvénic mode intermittency in ITER-like tokamaks

Christian Kiefer (MPI)


ASDEX Upgrade experiments and validation of theoretical transport models for the prediction of ITER PFPO-1 plasmas

Mireille Schneider (ITER)


Simulation of heating and current drive sources for various scenarios of the ITER Research Plan using the IMAS H&CD workflow

Emmi Tholerus (CCFE)


Scenario development of ITER ELMy H-mode hydrogen plasma

Kathreen Thome (GA)


Changes in Impurity Transport with Applied Torque in DIII-D ELMy H-mode Plasma

Sun Hee Kim (ITER)


Assessment of access to ITER steady-state operation using CORSICA

Zhang Bin (ASIPP)


The dominant electron heating with low torque towards ITER baseline on EAST

Andrea Garofalo (GA)


High betaP for ITER Q=10 and Q=5 missions

USBPO Council

You may remember that we held an election for the USBPO Council a while back, as three members’ terms expired: Ted Biewer (ORNL), David Newman (Alaska), and Gary Staebler (GA). I’d like to express my gratitude to Ted, David, and Gary for their service during their terms. Each year we select four new members; two by election and two by appointment. I’m happy to announce that Emily Belli (GA) and Greg Wallace (MIT) were the winners. In addition, Diane Demers (Xantho Technologies) and David Rasmussen (ORNL) have jointed the Council as appointed members.

With these changes, the 2020 USBPO Council is as follows:

Emily Belli



Troy Carter (Chair)



Diane Demers



Jim Irby



George McKee



Raffi Nazikan (Vice Chair)



Francesca Poli



David Rasmussen



Don Rej



Terry Rhodes



Uri Shumlak



Vlad Soukhanovskii



Greg Wallace



11th ITER International School: The Impact and Consequences of Energetic Particles on Fusion Plasmas

The 11th ITER International School has been rescheduled for November 16-20, still at Aix-Marseille University as originally planned. The subject of this year’s school is “The Impact and Consequences of Energetic Particles on Fusion Plasmas.” There is, of course, some uncertainty about whether the school can proceed on this schedule and whether US people will be able to travel to France by November.

As previously announced, we are still hoping to send 16 students from the US, supported by USBPO scholarships. In addition, about a half-dozen US researchers are on the agenda as speakers.

The recipients of the 2020 IIS scholarships are:

Gurleen Bal (UCLA)

Genevieve DeGrandchamp (UCI)

Jonah Duran (U Tenn Knoxville)

Kenneth Gage (UCI)

Alvin Garcia (UCI)

Daniel Lin (UCI)

Gabriel Player (UCI)

Quinn Pratt (UCLA)

Aaron Rosenthal (MIT)

Alex Saperstein (Columbia)

Kamil Sklodowski (UCLA)

Elizabeth Tolman (MIT)

Jeff Lestz (Princeton/UC Irvine)

Philip Bonofiglo (PPPL)

Noah Hurst (Wisconsin)

Alex Tinguely (MIT)

More details on this ITER International School are available or forthcoming at

ITER tokamak assembly begins

Even with COVID-19 restrictions, work is proceeding on the assembly of the ITER tokamak. For the last few years, I’ve been sharing photos of buildings. It was exciting to watch them going up, but now the tokamak building has been completed and turned over to the ITER Organization to move into the next phase: Tokamak assembly.

The first major component, the cryostat base, was inserted into the tokamak pit on May 26. Many large components, including the first poloidal and toroidal field coils, have already arrived at the ITER site. The first completed vacuum vessel sector is in transit.

Meanwhile, meetings at ITER are either delayed or being held remotely. The ITER Council recently held a remote meeting, and the Science and Technology Advisory Committee, of which I am a member, is preparing to hold a meeting remotely in September.


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The first piece of the ITER Tokamak, the cryostat base, was lowered into the tokamak pit on May 26. Photo courtesy of the ITER Organization.


Research Highlight

Diagnostics (Leaders: Max Austin and Calvin Domier)

This month’s highlight is from the diagnostic group at University of California, Davis discussing the latest in state-of-the-art edge microwave plasma diagnostic instrumentation. This team has led the development for more compact and robust elements to use in both passive and active microwave systems to provide electron temperature and density measurements for next step fusion devices.

System-on-chip technology: game changer for burning plasma diagnosis*

Guanying Yu1, Yilun Zhu1, and Neville Luhmann1

1University of California, Davis

Author e-mail:

Text Box: Figure 1 This GaAs based receiver chip has been developed by the UC Davis team. Its working frequency is 75 -110 GHz for the DIII-D ECE-Imaging (ECEI) system covering the pedestal and core regions.A circuit board

Description automatically generatedMicrowave-based measurements have found broad application in magnetic fusion plasma diagnostics and are expected to be widely employed in burning plasma experiments due to their numerous advantages and applications including minimal port access requirements, co-locating interferometer, reflectometer, radiometer, and scattering systems for burning plasma physics studies and real-time feedback plasma control. In many state-of-the-art systems, each device-level function is performed by a separate component. Diagnosticians then typically assemble a functional instrument by connecting these packages together with short sections of waveguide resulting in the common expression of waveguide “plumbing”. In contrast, the cutting-edge microwave integrated chip (IC) technology provides breakthrough opportunities to enhance diagnostics’ capabilities in fusion science and survive the harsh radiation environment. Integrated circuit technology facilitates combining many bulky microwave components onto a single, tiny piece of semiconductor substrate, as shown in Figure 1. The front-end microwave sensor is built on a square millimeter level chip instead of the suitcase-size waveguide approach. The System-on-Chip approach has demonstrated excellent shielding performance against environmental interference, significant mixing efficiency (over 30x boost), and new accessible physics areas. Furthermore, the IC itself is able to be mass produced, making for a bench-stock of consistent and yet inexpensive replacement circuits that can be swapped out with minimal effort—clearly an advantage in burning plasmas where experimental resources, diagnostic access, and run-time are at a premium!

A demo version of System-on-Chip microwave diagnostics was successfully deployed for DIII-D Electron Cyclotron Emission Imaging (ECEI) measurements in 2019. The new ECEI system is now used for 2D pedestal temperature imaging with high spatial and temporal resolution. High confinement (H-mode) plasmas are accompanied by a quasi-periodic crash event (ELMs) at the plasma edge, which poses a detrimental transient heat load to the plasma facing materials. Resonant Magnetic Perturbations (RMPs) have been widely applied in experimental tokamak devices to control the ELMs, but the physics mechanism of RMP-ELM control is still not fully understood. Enhancing plasma edge transport appears to be key to constraining the plasma edge in this stable operating region that is free from ELMs. RMPs are predicted to drive small magnetic islands in the plasma edge that may enhance edge transport by guiding the electrons parallel to the island magnetic field lines. Additionally, the RMP changes the plasma flow at the edge, which may destabilize certain turbulent phenomena that may also enhance the edge transport. For the latter case, the DIII-D W-band [75-110 GHz] ECEI, upgraded with the latest high signal-to-noise-ratio receivers, has been commissioned to measure the electron radiation temperature () fluctuation excited by low-k (k<0.3) turbulence and Text Box: Figure 2. Strong turbulence occurs during ELM suppression (a) D_α (b) RMP coil current (c) electron density (d) β_N (e) turbulence power spectrum (f) turbulence cross phase spectrumreveal clues to understanding the physics of RMP ELM suppression.

In DIII-D discharge 179328, an increasing RMP is applied to the plasma to achieve ELM suppression. RMP strength coil current; and the ELMs are measured via the signal. The significant increase in the ECEI spectrum coherence signifies strong turbulence. The cross phase describes the turbulence phase velocity as ~ 15 km/s in the ion diamagnetic direction in the lab frame. The capability of obtaining the cross power spectrum and cross phase allows us to perform more detailed physics studies to correlate profile changes with fluctuation characteristics.

Benefiting from the system-on-chip mixing technology, ECEI is not only a fluctuation diagnostic, but also measures the equilibrium electron temperature. When the ELMs are suppressed in the same discharge, the plasma edge is not static, but exhibits quasi-periodic pulsations every ~10 . The pulsations, seen in Fig 3(a)(b), are confirmed with both the heat flux diagnostic IRTV and the uncalibrated diagnostic ECEI. Each peak in the IRTV heat flux coincides with one valley in the pedestal temperature in the time domain. Due to the high signal quality of ECEI, the turbulence amplitude (Fig. 3(c)) is separately measured with short time windows at all of the peaks and valleys of the IRTV heat flux. We found that the turbulence is strongly correlated with energy transport in the plasma edge, as the turbulence power is significantly stronger at the IRTV heat flux peaks than that at the valleys.

Text Box: Figure 3. quasi-periodic pulsations during ELM suppression. (a) uncalibrated ECEI at ρ ~ 0.94 (b) IRTV (c) Ensemble averaged turbulence power separately at high and low IRTV heat flux.

Implementing microwave diagnostics on reactor plasma will require a slight increase in operating frequencies above 160 GHz, mandating further technology developments. However, there are considerably more serious issues raised by the harsh radiation and high temperature environment. ITER will be the first magnetic confinement fusion machine to produce net fusion power and will generate radiation levels, i.e., neutrons and gamma rays, that are much higher than present-day tokamaks. Consequently, there is a need to develop more robust electronics with higher performance and capability to reliably measure the desired data. A major improvement in robustness, as well as performance and capability, is to switch to gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor devices, which are wide bandgap materials (3.39 eV versus 1.43 and 1.11 for GaAs and Si, respectively). GaN semiconductor devices have been shown to provide high power, high breakdown voltages, and low noise beyond 200 GHz. UC Davis will develop key strategic GaN based chips (75-110 GHz and above) that will advance the capabilities of microwave diagnostics including radiometers, reflectometers, and scattering. This work will transform current microwave measurement capabilities while ensuring continued U.S. leadership in burning plasma diagnostic expertise.

* This work was supported by the US DoE under Grants DE-FG02-99ER54531 and DE-FC02-04ER54698.

Calendar of Burning Plasma Events

Many upcoming meetings are being impacted by the COVID-19 situation. We suggest that you not rely too heavily on the schedule below - it is best to check with the meeting organizers before making any plans.


JET DT-campaign (

JT-60SA First Plasma (

Sep 20-25, 2020

31st Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT)



Oct 12-16, 2020

Theory of Fusion Plasmas Joint Varenna-
Lausanne International Workshop

Varenna or Lausanne


Nov 9-13, 2020

62nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics

Remote only


Nov 15-19, 2020

Technology of Fusion Energy (TOFE) 2020

Chicago, IL


Nov 16-20, 2020

ITER International School

Marseille, France


Dec 6-10, 2020

47th International Conference on Plasma
Science (ICOPS)



Dec 13-17, 2020

High Temperature Plasma Diagnostics

Santa Fe, NM


Dec 16-17, 2020

Fusion Power Associates 41st Annual Meeting and Symposium

Washington, D.C.


Jan 24-29, 2021

International Conference on Plasma Surface Interactions

Jeju, South Korea


May 10-15, 2021

28th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference (FEC2020)

Nice, France



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