Electrons are elementary particles -- indivisible, unbreakable. But new research suggests the electron's quantum state -- the electron wave function -- can be separated into many parts. That has some strange implications for the theory of quantum mechanics.
For magnetic fusion energy to fuel future power plants, scientists must find ways to control the interactions that take place between the volatile edge of the plasma and the walls that surround it in fusion facilities. Such interactions can profoundly affect conditions at the superhot core of the plasma in ways that include kicking up impurities that cool down the core and halt fusion reactions.
Researchers are finding ways to understand some of the mysteries of space without leaving earth. Using high-intensity lasers focused on targets smaller than a pencil's eraser, they conducted experiments to create colliding jets of plasma knotted by plasma filaments and self-generated magnetic fields, reaching pressures a billion times higher than seen on earth.
When researchers at General Electric Co. sought help in designing a plasma-based power switch, they turned to the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The proposed switch could contribute to a more advanced and reliable electric grid and help to lower utility bills.