Fusion Energy Tutorial

Worldwide efforts to develop fusion energy are centered on the use of plasmas.  Plasmas are ionized gases consisting of positively-charged atomic nuclei and negatively-charged electrons, composing a collection of particles that is typically macroscopically neutral but nevertheless responds readily to electric and magnetic fields.  Plasmas are ubiquitous throughout the Universe, but matter does not exist on Earth in this state under usual surface conditions.  As a result, plasmas have been designated as the “fourth state of matter” after solids, liquids, and gases even though a plasma is arguably a more fundamental state of matter (i.e., the first state) since it may be comprised entirely of fully ionized particles.  

Elucidating the collective behavior of plasmas is the key pursuit of plasma science.  To achieve this aim, the scientific theory of plasmas draws on nearly every other area of physics including classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, fluid mechanics, statistical mechanics, relativity, and quantum mechanics, making it one of the most cross-cutting areas of physics.  This page collects a few online resources that provide a glimpse into the fascinating fields of plasma physics and nuclear fusion energy.  These areas have been developed entirely in the last century, and mainly through federally funded scientific research aimed at building the scientific foundation needed for developing an electrical power plant based on a controlled nuclear fusion reaction.

Primers on Fusion Energy and Plasma Physics



General Atomics



Notable Lecture Series

SULI Course in Plasma Physics: During its Summer Term, students placed in the DOE’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program under the Plasma and Fusion Sciences Technical Area are eligible to participate in an intensive one-week long course on plasma physics at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, taught by world-renowned plasma scientists from all over the country.  The lectures are recorded and are archived online for the following years: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018.

Artsimovich Memorial Lectures: Lectures presented at the IAEA Conferences on Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion Research to commemorate Academician Lev Andreevich Artsimovich.

If you are aware of useful material related to fusion education that might be linked to this page, please contact Matthew Lanctot at matthew.lanctot@science.doe.gov.