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Plasma Physics, Lasers and Nuclear Fusion

Plasma is the most common state of matter in the Universe, accounting for over 99% of visible matter. Plasmas are present in the minute magnetic fields that fill space, in the magnetospheres of extreme objects like pulsars or black holes, and are associated with the largest accelerators in the Universe, enigmatic gamma ray bursts, and exotic radio wave emissions. Plasmas are also the hot, dense matter inside stars, at lower temperatures they are found in fluorescent lamps and used in the manufacture of common electronic devices, and when created below 1K they allow new states of matter to be investigated.

Understanding plasmas will allow us to master the energy of stars on Earth, understand the behavior of particles and radiation during solar storms, understand communications in the ionosphere and the protective effect of Earth's magnetosphere, and design spacecraft reentry into the atmospheres of planets. Controlling the flows of particles and energy in low-temperature plasmas opens the way to disruptive technologies based on the physicochemical reactivity of this medium and the surfaces it interacts with.

Studying plasmas has already made it possible to develop reactors for the synthesis and processing of new nano-structured materials, create relativistic particle accelerators, and generate ultra-bright X-ray sources. In the future it will help create a breathable atmosphere on Mars and allow fusion reactors to be built by confining plasmas with magnetic fields or intense lasers. High-energy, short-lived laser pulses can also serve to study the behavior of matter in nonlinear and relativistic regimes.

In the Scientific Area of Plasmas, Lasers and Nuclear Fusion of the Department of Physics of Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) we study the fascinating fourth state of matter with experimental, engineering, theory, modeling and simulation projects, including high performance computing, in national and international contexts and facilities.

The faculty members of our scientific area are actively engaged in education, research and outreach programs. Their activity is developed at the Institute of Plasmas and Nuclear Fusion (IPFN), a research unit (RU) of IST evaluated as “Exceptional” (2014, the sole RU of IST and the sole RU in Physics to receive this mark) and as “Excellent” (2019 and 2021, when IPFN renewed its contract of Associate Laboratory of FCT).

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Recent News

Faculty Frederico Fiúza appointed Visiting Professor at Stanford

Faculty Frederico Fiúza appointed Visiting Professor at Stanford May 14 2024

Frederico Fiúza was appointed Visiting Professor at Stanford University (USA) with the goal of collaborating in research activities in the areas of cosmic ray physics, plasma physics and plasma-based accelerators in the Photon Science Department and in experiments at the FACET-II accelerator facility at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

This appointment, for a 3-year term, will strengthen the collaborations of IPFN and the Department of Physics of IST with Stanford University and with the Photon Science Department at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Congratulations, ...


Faculties recognized as Outstanding Reviewers in 2023

Faculties recognized as Outstanding Reviewers in 2023 May 14 2024

Every year, outstanding reviewers are selected by scientific publishers based on the quality, number, and timeliness of their reports. In 2023
- Rui Coelho was recognized as Outstanding Reviewer for Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion (IOP) and Nuclear Fusion (IOP)
- Pedro Viegas was recognized as Outstanding Reviewer for J. Phys D: Applied Physics (IOP)
- Hugo Terças was recognized as Outstanding Reviewer by the American Physical Society
- Nuno Cruz was recognized as Outstanding Reviewer for Nuclear Engineering and Technology (Elsevier)

Congratulations !


Recent Publications