Laboratory for High Energy Plasmas

2021-04-13 124

Last November, the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy succeeded in the continuous generation of plasma at the ultra-high temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius for more than 20 seconds inside the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), an experimental reactor designed to achieve nuclear fusion reactions on Earth’s ground, which normally occur either on the Sun. For plasma to trigger such fusion reactions with atomic nuclei and electrons in their separated ion states, the temperature should exceed the 100 million Celsius mark. On Earth, maintaining plasma above this temperature threshold is difficult due to the relatively weak gravity. The institute set a world record in operating plasma at temperatures higher than 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds and longer.


The Laboratory for High Energy Plasmas or P4 (Pohang Platform for Plasma Physics and Applications) headed by professor Gunsu S. YUN at the Department of Physics and the Division of Advanced Nuclear Engineering, POSTECH, has made significant contributions to generating such ultra-high temperature plasma. The Lab also developed a video camera to film the inner cross-sections of plasma as well as a wavemeter to measure the wave spectrum in detail. These represent unrivaled diagnostic technologies in the field of fusion plasma and they serve as a solid example for the Lab’s world’s renowned, top-notch performance.


Professor YUN’s research team studies atmospheric and high-pressure plasma in addition to high-temperature plasma. Through their research on atmospheric plasma, they elaborated on the power delivery and electron behavior of microwave-based plasma sources. In the field of high-pressure plasma, they created strongly-coupled plasma. Strongly-coupled plasma commonly occurs on such gigantic gaseous planets as Jupiter and still remains an untapped research area.


“It is such a proud and rewarding experience to establish a research platform for high-pressure strongly-coupled plasma that is still an unchartered territory”, professor YUN commented and went on to say, “We would like to become a pioneer and a leader in the research of strongly-coupled plasma”.


The research team plans to develop technology to maintain strongly-coupled plasma and to measure their properties. In addition to strongly-coupled plasma, researchers at the Lab are confident that they will take the existing interpretation technology of diagnostic signals to a new level in the study of high-temperature plasma and leverage such technology in investigating plasma flow, turbulence and waves as well as the interactions made among particles.