Our mission

The Basic Plasma Science Facility (BaPSF) is a place to perform frontier-level experiments that require physical conditions not suitable for small devices. The facility provides an environment in which teams with complementary expertise (e.g., Laser Induced Fluorescence or High Power RF) can come together to attack problems that they would not pursue individually. The operational procedures foster the exchange of technical information across diverse areas of research (e.g., fusion studies, space investigations, laser-plasma interactions, plasma applications) in which the basic properties of plasmas play an essential role.

The facility is available to scientists from all institutions, national and international, but especially provides qualified scientists from small institutions access to state-of-the-art hardware and a broad range of plasma conditions in which to exert their creativity. Through cooperative research programs involving researchers from large and small institutions, the BaPSF aims to yield major advances on outstanding problems related to the behavior of plasmas, and contribute significantly to the training of the next generation of plasma researchers.

The upgraded Large Plasma Device (LAPD) that forms the core of the facility commenced operation in the summer of 2001. In addition to providing access to this device, users are provided access to the substantial and modern research equipment (oscilloscopes, computers, lasers, RF generators, data collection system, etc.) of the facility. The plasma device is operated round-the-clock providing research-grade plasmas at a 1 Hz repetition rate, and having a wide range of possible parameter choices under the user's control. It is anticipated that in steady state, 5 to 7 external research groups could be accommodated per year. There will also be time available for short-term, proof-of-principle experiments. The director of the facility is Professor Walter Gekelman, who is advised by an external Scientific Council consisting of leading researchers selected in broad consultation with the community and the various funding agencies. There are no user fees; external groups can use the LAPD and the research infrastructure of the local group at no cost.

Operations of the facility are funded through a cooperative agreement between the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation commencing in August, 2001, with W. Gekelman the PI, and J. Maggs and G. Morales co-PIs. A National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Award to these investigators, and substantial contributions from the Office of Naval Research, and the University of California, Los Angeles funded construction of the upgraded LAPD device.

The local UCLA group's research is separately funded via peer reviewed proposals from various agencies.

Funding from the cooperative agreement is to provide device and diagnostics access to the users, as well as temporary office space and computational and technical support at no cost. All travel, investigator's salaries, housing, meals, and other such expenses are not funded by the facility. To use the facility an investigator must submit a white paper, which is reviewed by the Scientific Council.

The data and scientific results of a given project that are obtained in the BaPSF are the sole property of the investigators/ group who submit a white paper. Any publications or presentations of the results are the responsibility of the authors of the white paper but must acknowledge use of the facility.

Typical machine-time allotted to an experiment that is approved by the Scientific Council is two to three weeks of 24-hour operation per year. Scheduling is determined by the Director and the Council with input from the users.