Plasma Science Frontiers

The frontiers of plasma science are often, but not limited to, the extremes of the plasma state, ranging from the very small (several atom systems) to the extremely large (plasma structure spanning light years in length), from the very fast (attosecond processes) to the very slow (hours), from the diffuse (interstellar medium) to the extremely dense (diamond compressed to tens of gigabar pressures), and from the ultra-cold (tens of micro kelvin) to the extremely hot (stellar core). Advancing the science of these unexplored areas creates opportunities for new and unexpected discoveries with potential to be translated into practical applications.

The Plasma Science Frontiers portfolio includes coordinated research activities in the following three areas:

  • General Plasma Science – Research in frontier areas of basic and low temperature plasma science and engineering, including advancing our understanding of the behavior of non-neutral and single-component plasmas, ultra-cold plasmas, dusty plasmas, and micro-plasmas, as well as the study of dynamical processes in classical plasmas including turbulence, thermal, radiative and particle transport, waves, structures, flows and their interactions.
  • High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas – Research directed at exploring the behavior of matter at extreme conditions of temperature, density, and pressure, including laboratory astrophysics and planetary science, structure and dynamic of matter at the atomic scale, laser-plasma interactions and relativistic optics, magneto hydrodynamics (MHD) and magnetized plasmas, and plasma atomic physics and radiation transport.
  • Exploratory Magnetized Plasma – Basic and applied research directed at developing the understanding of laboratory magnetized-plasma behavior necessary to advance innovative solutions and capabilities for the creation, control, and manipulation of magnetically confined plasmas for terrestrial and space applications.


This subprogram stewards world-class, laboratory-based plasma science experiments and user facilities at small and intermediate scales. These platforms not only facilitate addressing frontier plasma science questions but also provide critical data for the verification and validation of plasma science codes. This effort maintains strong partnerships with the NSF and NNSA.

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