Elizabeth Tolman, 2015, Physics

This summer, I worked with the fusion department at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. One of the department’s experiments is an advanced fusor, which is a fusion reactor that confines its plasma using a large electric field. Although not likely to produce net energy, the fusor could one day be a commercial source of neutrons; it also provides opportunities for studying the general behavior of plasmas. As part of my internship, I automated the fusor’s pressure and voltage measuring systems. In addition, I researched the relationship between potential measurements made with a probe inserted into the fusor and spectroscopic measurements of light coming from the fusor. The internship allowed me to gain more knowledge of plasma physics and also to gain more familiarity with experimental physics. I enjoyed these experiences, so I hope to continue learning about plasma physics in the future through my independent work at Princeton. In addition, I am now considering going to graduate school in plasma physics.