To support the program mission and its major focus, the U.S. fusion program is constructed from four elements:

Burning Plasma Science: Foundations
Burning Plasma Science: Long Pulse
Burning Plasma Science: High Power
Discovery Plasma Science

These programs (with the exception of the Burning Plasma Science: High Power which is described in the Facilitiessection) are described below.

Burning Plasma Science: Foundations advances the predictive understanding of plasma confinement, dynamics, and interactions with surrounding materials. Among the activities supported by this subprogram are:

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Burning Plasma Science: Long Pulse explores new and unique scientific regimes that can be achieved with long-duration superconducting international machines, and addresses the development of the materials and technologies required to withstand and sustain a burning plasma. This subprogram includes:

  • Long Pulse: Tokamak: U.S. research teams are supported to work on the long-pulse international tokamaks that are coming on-line either now or in the near future, and will build on the experience gained from U.S. fusion facilities to conduct long-pulse research on the international tokamaks.
  • Long Pulse: Stellarator:The U.S. collaboration on Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) in Germany provides an opportunity to develop and assess 3D divertor configurations for long-pulse, high-performance stellarators. In this collaboration, the U.S. develops control schemes to maintain plasmas with stable operational boundaries, including the challenges of control with superconducting coils and issues of the diagnosis-control cycle in long-pulse conditions.
  • Materials & Fusion Nuclear Science: This element supports the development, characterization, and modeling of structural, plasma-facing, and blanket materials used in the fusion environment. Studies that help identify the various scientific challenges to fusion energy deployment and that determine how to address them in a safe and environmentally responsible manner are a key component.

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    Discovery Plasma Science supports research that explores the fundamental properties and complex behavior of matter in the plasma state to improve the understanding required to control and manipulate plasmas for a broad range of applications. This subprogram supports a portfolio of research projects and small- and mid-scale experimental user facilities for exploring the diverse frontiers of plasma science. The activities of this subprogram are carried out through inter- and intra-agency partnerships at academic institutions, industry research groups, and national laboratories across the country. The Discovery Plasma Science subprogram is organized into two principal activities:

    • Plasma Science Frontiers involve research in largely unexplored areas of plasma science, with a combination of theory, computer modeling, and experimentation; and
    • Measurement Innovation supports the development of novel and innovative diagnostic techniques and their application to new, unexplored, or unfamiliar plasma regimes or scenarios.

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    For further information about any of these programs, please contact the associated FES Program Managers.