MagNetUS Frontier Plasma Science

The MagNetUS program committee is pleased to announce the second annual MagNetUS meeting to be held June 7-10, 2022. This hybrid meeting is open for anyone to attend either virtually or in person. The in-person component will be held at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA.

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Call for proposals:

Frontier science at BapSF, DIII-D, MPRL, and WIPPl

We are pleased to announce an exciting opportunity to explore the frontiers of plasma science using the MagNetUS facilities, including the Basic Plasma Science Facility (University of California at Los Angeles), Wisconsin Plasma Physics Laboratory (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Magnetized Plasma Research Laboratory (Auburn University) and DIII-D National Fusion Facility at San Diego.


The Basic Plasma Science Facility (BaPSF) is a US national 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 which can not 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 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 in 2022 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:


  1. Intellectual Merit: What are the prospects for fundamental advances to frontier plasma science through the proposed work? Is the approach or experimental design novel or unique? How does the proposed work compare with other efforts in the field? What is the impact on the field that might result from this work?

  2. Technical Approach: How well developed is the idea? Is the proposal technically feasible? Are the resources needed to carry the proposal out available? What is the likelihood of success? Are potential problems recognized and alternative strategies considered?

  3. Broader Impacts: Does the project: involve and train junior scientists (including students & postdocs), have an impact on diversity, make contributions to the broader community using the facility (e.g., will the project bring new techniques or hardware that could be utilized by others)?

  4. Team and Facility readiness: How well prepared are the PI and team? Are the necessary skills represented amongst the proponents?


Awards 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 solicitation. Selected proposals are granted runtime over two consecutive years (so for this solicitation, it would be for 2022-2023 (starting late spring/early summer 2022) and 2023-2024) and typically receive two run weeks per year (usually not consecutive).

  • DIII-D: In 2022 and 2023, the runtime is allocated for eight half-day experiments (and two half days of contingency time) each year under this solicitation. 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% of the yearly machine time is dedicated to external users.

  • WiPPL: Approximately 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. Starting in 2022, half that runtime will be allocated for each yearly solicitation. Selected proposals will be granted run time over two consecutive years.


Additional funds to support any needed hardware development (items that can’t be provided by the facilities), travel, and salary support to enable analysis may be available from federal funding agencies through separate solicitations. A non-exhaustive list of funding opportunities includes:


  • The NSF-DOE Partnership in Plasma Science and Engineering. Contacts: Nirmol Podder (nirmol.podder@science.doe.gov) and Vyacheslav Lukin (vlukin@nsf.gov).

  • DOE FES Opportunities in Frontier Plasma Science program. Contact: Nirmol Podder (nirmol.podder@science.doe.gov). A new solicitation for this program is anticipated in FY22.

  • 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, and necessary document templates, as well as a list of contacts at each facility, are located at the magnetus.net website. 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.


A panel of plasma scientists will review proposals to recommend selections to MagNetUS.

Proposals are due by Jan 18, 2022. Proponents will be notified in February 2022.

WiPPL and its leadership are fully committed to a diverse, equitable and inclusive research community and follow the policies of the UW Physics Department DEI plan.

The leadership of the Magnetized Plasma Research Laboratory (MPRL) and the Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) are committed to cultivating an inclusive environment that draws on the strength of diverse people, experiences, and backgrounds. This is advanced through the COSAM’s Office of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity.

BaPSF leadership and staff understand that the plasma science community can only be strengthened when the makeup of that community reflects the diversity of society as a whole. Therefore, we are committed to creating a research and learning environment that is inclusive, while being cognizant that equitable access for all is necessary to achieve inclusivity. For more information, please visit https://www.physicalsciences.ucla.edu/diversity/ and https://www.pa.ucla.edu/diversity.html.