Dependent on the availability of congressional appropriations and Frontier Plasma Science Collaborative Research Facilities (CRF) operations and resources, we are pleased to announce an exciting opportunity to explore the frontiers of plasma science using the Basic Plasma Science Facility (University of California Los Angeles), Wisconsin Plasma Physics Laboratory (University of Wisconsin - Madison), Magnetized Plasma Research Laboratory (Auburn University) and DIII-D National Fusion Facility at General Atomics, San Diego.
The Basic Plasma Science Facility (BaPSF) is a collaborative research facility for fundamental plasma physics. BaPSF provides access to frontier-level research devices (principally the Large Plasma Device) that permit the exploration of plasma processes that cannot be studied in smaller devices or are difficult to diagnose in larger facilities, such as magnetic confinement fusion experiments. Recent examples of user research include wave-particle interactions relevant to the Earth’s magnetosphere and radiation belts, linear (propagation, reflection) and nonlinear (parametric instabilities) properties of Alfvén waves, and particle transport by turbulence in magnetized plasmas.
The Wisconsin Plasma Physics Laboratory (WiPPL) operates several multi-investigator, intermediate-scale plasma physics devices and supports the core of a broad research program to understand the flow of energy between fields and particles in plasmas. WiPPL coordinates the joint operation of the Big Red Ball (BRB) and the Madison Symmetric Torus (MST) devices with a focus on frontier basic plasma science and creates a unique opportunity to expand the basic plasma frontier and to realize experiments to transform space and astrophysical plasma science.
The Magnetized Plasma Research Laboratory (MPRL) is one of the plasma physics research laboratories in the Auburn University Physics Department. The primary mission of the MPRL is to study various plasma phenomena under the influence of strong magnetic fields (up to 4 T). In particular, the MPRL has unique capabilities to study the physics of magnetized dusty plasmas. There are four modes of operation on MDPX (Magnetized Dusty Plasma eXperiment), from novel experimental exploration using MPRL facilities and diagnostics all the way to a complete swapping of the existing plasma chamber with a custom-designed user-defined plasma chamber that uses the available 4 T magnetic field. We also pursue experiments on waves and instabilities on the ALEXIS (Auburn Linear EXperiment for Instability Studies) device in MPRL.
DIII-D National Fusion Facility is a highly flexible tokamak with a comprehensive set of diagnostics, able to study a broad range of plasma physics phenomena. The different applications of plasma physics share common foundations on questions such as magnetic reconnection, wave-particle interactions, particle energization, or global MHD stability. The DIII-D facility, which targets fusion energy goals, can provide a window on these fundamental processes that complement capabilities elsewhere.
Proposals are invited for runtime beginning in 2024 on topics that advance the frontiers of plasma science and engineering. Recent reports, such as the NASEM Plasma 2020 Decadal Report and the DOE FESAC Long Range Planning Report (2021) provide guidance on frontier topics in plasma science and engineering. Proposals will be selected based on:
Intellectual Merit: Prospects for fundamental advance, new approach, understanding, or valuable results? Uniqueness, originality, and scientific merit compared with other efforts? Impact on the field?
Technical Approach: How well developed is the idea? Logical and/or feasible and/or innovative? Well thought out? Likelihood of valid conclusion or success? Potential problems recognized and alternative strategies considered?
Team and Facility readiness: How well prepared are the PI and team? Necessary skills represented amongst proponents? CRF research environment and available resources adequate? What level of technical support is needed from the CRF team? Needs for additional diagnostic or equipment?
Promoting Inclusive and Equitable Research (PIER) Plan: Involve participation and training of students or postdocs or individuals from a diverse background? Support an encouraging, safe, professional research environment for all participants? Make contributions to the broader community using the CRF (e.g., will the project bring new techniques or hardware that could be utilized by others)?
A review panel consisting of plasma science experts from the community will review all proposals in a two stage process. The first stage will utilize a double-anonymous review process to evaluate the intellectual merit and technical readiness criteria. All proposals will be stripped of the cover page and personnel sections to remove identifying information about the proposers and collaborators for the review panel. The cover page and personnel sections will be added back for the second stage to evaluate the team readiness and PIER plan criteria. Ranked lists will be sent to facility directors to make the final decision on runtime allocations and comments from the review panel will be forwarded to the proposers.
Awards may consist of experimental runtime with support for experimental design, diagnostic and facility operation. Runtime is allocated differently on each facility:
● BaPSF: Runtime is allocated a week at a time, and ~20 weeks of total runtime are available per year to external users, with half of that runtime allocated with each yearly call for runtime proposals. Selected proposals are granted runtime over two consecutive years (so for this call for runtime proposals, it would be for 2024-2025 - starting late spring/early summer 2024 - and 2025-2026) and typically receive two run weeks per year (do not need to be consecutive).
● DIII-D: The runtime is allocated for eight half-day experiments (4 run days + 1 reserve day) starting Oct. 2024 under this call for runtime proposals. Proposals requiring more DIII-D runtime will be considered for full-day experiments (two half-days). Additional half-days may be available for proposals that are associated with graduate student Ph.D. projects.
● MPRL: Users are allocated about 1 - 3 weeks of machine run time, depending on the complexity of the project. About 40-50% of the yearly machine time is dedicated to external users.
● WiPPL: Up to 50% of WiPPL runtime is available to external users, with runtime allocated in blocks of time ranging from 1 week to several months, depending on the complexity of the experiment and the device being used. Selected proposals will be granted runtime over two consecutive years (June 2024 through May 2026), depending on device availability. Half the available runtime is allocated for each yearly call for runtime proposals.
Through separate federal agency funding opportunity announcements or solicitations, U.S. proposers may apply for additional funding to support any needed hardware development (items that can’t be provided by the facilities), travel, and personnel support to enable analysis. A non-exhaustive list of funding opportunities includes:
● DOE FES General Plasma Science program. Contact: Nirmol Podder (email@example.com).
● NSF programs in Plasma Physics, Magnetospheric Physics, Solar Terrestrial, and Laboratory Astrophysics under the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Grants program. Contacts: cognizant NSF Program Directors as described in the program descriptions.
● NASA also provides funding opportunities that have supported facility users (e.g., Heliophysics Technology and Instrument Development for Science Program)
More details about the facilities, application process, past awardees, and necessary document templates, as well as a list of contacts at each facility, are located at the www.callforruntimeproposals.org (https://sites.google.com/view/crfcallforruntimeproposals/) website. Questions regarding this 2023 Call for Runtime Proposals may be sent to Joseph Olson (firstname.lastname@example.org). Applicants are encouraged to engage relevant experts from the DIII-D, BaPSF, WiPPL, and MPRL programs to assist in developing proposals and carrying out experiments.
Proposals are due by Jan 5, 2024. Proposers are expected to be notified in February 2024.