The mission of the Fusion Energy Sciences is to expand the fundamental understanding of matter at very high temperatures and densities and to build the scientific foundation needed to develop a fusion energy source. Many of the frontiers of fusion science exist at the extremes of the plasma state, a state of matter where gases are hot enough that electrons disassociate from atomic nuclei (ions), forming an ensemble of ions and electrons that can conduct electrical currents and be confined by electric and magnetic fields.
Although tremendous scientific progress has been made since the inception of fusion energy research in the United States and internationally, fusion's research frontiers remain replete with open problems of critical importance. Their solution requires understanding not only of plasma phenomena itself but also of its interaction with surrounding material structures. Novel advanced diagnostics are needed to inform scientific understanding and enhance control capabilities. Sophisticated algorithms are needed to probe and control plasma dynamics. Improved theoretical and computational models are required to elucidate the physics of laboratory and space plasmas. Commensurate with these challenges is the promise of fusion energy, which can simultaneously provide base-load power production without producing greenhouse gases, with no possibility of runaway nuclear reactions or meltdown, minimal weapons proliferation risk, and minimal generation of long-lived radioactive waste.
The Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) has four strategic goals:
- Advance the fundamental science of magnetically confined plasmas to develop the predictive capability needed for a sustainable fusion energy source;
- Support the development of the scientific understanding required to design and deploy the materials needed to support a burning plasma environment;
- Pursue scientific opportunities and grand challenges in high energy density plasma science to better understand our universe, and to enhance national security and economic competitiveness;
- Increase the fundamental understanding of basic plasma science, including both burning plasma and low temperature plasma science and engineering, to enhance economic competiveness and to create opportunities for a broader range of science-based applications.
Fusion Postdoctoral Participant research must support the program mission and its major focus, specifically in the areas of:
- Burning Plasma Science: Foundations advances the predictive understanding of plasma confinement, dynamics, and interactions with surrounding materials.
- Burning Plasma Science: Long Pulse explores new and unique scientific regimes that can be achieved with long-duration superconducting international machines and addresses the development of the materials and technologies required to withstand and sustain a burning plasma.
- Discovery Plasma Science supports research that explores the fundamental properties and complex behavior of matter in the plasma state to improve the understanding required to control and manipulate plasmas for a broad range of applications.
Additional information can be found at: https://science.osti.gov/fes/Research#DPS and https://www.energy.gov/science/fes/fusion-energy-sciences