Research Facilities

Extensive research facilities exist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) on the James Forrestal Campus and in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at the Engineering Quadrangle on the main campus. There are excellent libraries and outstanding computer facilities on both campuses.

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Many plasma devices at PPPL are devoted to fusion research. NSTX (National Spherical Torus Experiment) was constructed by PPPL in collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Columbia University, and the University of Washington at Seattle. Spherically shaped plasmas could allow the development of smaller, more economical fusion reactors. The medium-sized Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX) has been recently upgraded for studies of advanced operational modes. Other research facilities at PPPL are:

  • MNX: Magnetic Nozzle Experiment
  • MRI: Magnetorotational Instability Experiment
  • MRX: Magnetic Reconnection Experiment
  • NNP: Nonneutral Plasma Experiment
  • PFRC: Princeton Field-reversed Configuration Experiment
  • PTSX: Paul Trap Simulator Experiment
  • Nanolab: Plasma-based Nanotechnology Laboratory (PBNL). A facility that explores the synthesis of nanomaterials and plasmas. A central objective of the research is to understand the synergistic roles of plasma and nanoscale materials processes in the synthesis of nanomaterials.
  • SSTL: Surface Science and Technology Laboratory. Surface analysis systems are utilized for measuring SEE and plasma-materials interactions using a D atom source, Colutron ion source, and tectra ECR plasma source while probing the surface using AES, XPS, LEIS, HREELS, and TPD.
  • SIML: Surface Imaging and Microanalysis Laboratory. A Thermo VG Scientific Microlab 310-F high-performance field-emission Auger and multitechnique surface microanalysis instrument with a lateral resolution of 50 nm is used for elemental analysis of surfaces of samples on the micro and nano scale.

Engineering Quadrangle

The Program in Plasma Science and Technology supports students working on research facilities in the departments of Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The research is concentrated in four areas: materials processing for semiconductor fabrication, spacecraft propulsion, surface and gas phase chemistry, and development of novel lasers and their applications. Primary facilities are:

  • Reactive Ion Etch (RIE): This apparatus is being used for the development of real-time etching process monitors based on reflection infrared spectroscopy.
  • Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD): Four reactors are utilized in the fabrication of amorphous silicon films for photovoltaics and large-area transistor electronics and the processing of devices for integrated circuits.
  • Ti:Sapphire laser facility for closed-loop adaptive quantum system control experiments. (Paper, PDF, 200 KB)
  • X-ray Laser Laboratory
  • Powerful Subpicosecond Laser Laboratory
  • X-ray Imaging Laboratory
  • Electric Propulsion and Plasma Dynamics Lab (EPPDyL) for studies of MW magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters and hybrid kW MPD/thermal thrusters.
  • Laboratory for Surface Chemistry (LSC) for studies of atomic scale surface and interfacial processes. UHV chambers with instrumentation for STM, HR-XPS, LEIS, LEED, HREELS, FTIR, and TPD are utilized in investigations of plasma-materials interactions, nanostructured surfaces, thin metal films, electrochemistry, photochemistry, and catalysis.


Many activities within the PPST, especially those involving plasma processing of materials and the X-ray laser, are closely associated with The Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM), a multidisciplinary research center at Princeton University in the general field of materials science through photonics with a special emphasis on the hard material-soft material interface. Its mission includes graduate and undergraduate education and research which will have a long-term impact on society. Key elements of PRISM are the integration of the sciences and engineering, with work spanning from fundamental theory through applications, and the integration of PRISM’s work with efforts outside Princeton, especially with industry.

PRISM was formed in November 2003 and is based on the foundations of two smaller interdisciplinary centers at Princeton, the former Princeton Materials Institute and the former Center for Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials.