62nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics
November 9-13, 2020 • Virtual Meeting

Mini-Conferences, Organizers, and Brief Description

11.01 Frontiers of Magnetic Reconnection Research in Heliophysical, Astrophysical and Laboratory Plasmas
H. Ji (PPPL) and W. Daughton (LANL)

Magnetic reconnection - the topological rearrangement of magnetic field - underlies many explosive phenomena across a wide range of natural and laboratory plasmas. It plays a pivotal role in electron and ion heating, particle acceleration to high energies, energy transport, and self-organization. Reconnection can have a complex relationship with turbulence at both large and small scales, leading to various effects which are only beginning to be understood. In heliophysics, magnetic reconnection plays a key role in solar flares, coronal mass ejections, coronal heating, solar wind dissipation, the interaction of interplanetary plasma with magnetospheres, dynamics of planetary magnetospheres such as magnetic substorms, and the heliospheric boundary with the interstellar medium. Magnetic reconnection is integral to the solar and planetary dynamo processes. In astrophysics, magnetic reconnection is an important aspect of star formation in molecular clouds, stellar flares, explosive phenomena from magnetars and pulsars (including Crab Nebula), and even for acceleration of cosmic rays at ultra-high energies. Magnetic reconnection is thought to occur in both coronae and interiors of magnetized accretion disks in proto-stellar systems and X-ray binaries, as well as in interstellar medium turbulence. Magnetic reconnection is believed to occur in the centers of Active Galactic Nuclei, where matter is accreted onto supermassive black holes. On even larger scales, magnetic reconnection may be important in extragalactic radio jets and lobes, and even in galaxy clusters. Magnetic reconnection might occur during the recently discovered Fast Radio Bursts as well as play a role in understanding and predicting observations of multi-messenger astronomy and event-horizon telescopes. In laboratory plasmas, magnetic reconnection is known to occur during sawtooth oscillations in tokamaks, neoclassical tearing mode growth, disruptions, the startup of Spherical Torus plasmas using Coaxial Helicity Injection, relaxation in Reversed Field Pinches and spheromaks, the formation of Field Reversed Configurations by theta pinch or plasma merging, and possibly in edge-localized modes. Magnetic reconnection may play a role in magnetized inertial fusion plasmas such as Z pinches or laser plasmas. Thus, understanding magnetic reconnection is of fundamental importance for plasma physics and significantly contributes to our understanding of the Universe and to the success of fusion energy.

In this mini-conference, we plan to have four oral sessions plus posters to discuss the latest results and future prospects covering different approaches ranging from theory and numerical simulations to in-situ and remote sensing observations to laboratory experiments.

11.02 Recent Advances in Magnetic Fields in High Energy Density Plasmas
Hui Li (LANL), Carolyn Kuranz (U. Michigan), Mario Manuel (GA), Lan Gao (PPPL), Petros Tzeferacos (U Rochester), and Kirk Flippo (LANL)

The important role of magnetic fields in high-energy density (HED) plasmas has been increasingly recognized in recent years. Magnetic fields in HED systems can be either self-generated or externally applied. As emphasized in the Report on “A Community Plan for Fusion Energy and Discovery Plasma Sciences”, significant questions remain to be addressed: What are the mechanisms behind magnetic field generation and amplification? How do magnetic fields affect mass, mixing, momentum, and energy transport in such plasmas? Plasma transport in strongly magnetized plasmas in which the gyroradius is shorter than the Debye length, such as those produced in non-neutral plasma experiments and magnetized inertial fusion, is an area open for exploration. How intense laser fields propagating in overdense, relativistically transparent plasmas potentially produce MegaTesla fields is a further area of frontier research in this area. Recent advances in new facilities and diagnostics have further bolstered this area of exploration. New experiments, astrophysical observations, theory, and simulation are pushing this frontier at a rapid pace.

This mini-conference will bring together researchers with expertise in experiments, diagnostics, theory and computing to present their latest findings, discuss the frontier science challenges and explore near-term opportunities. Specifically, we plan to emphasize four specific areas: 1) magnetized laboratory astrophysics using HED plasmas; 2) theory of magnetized HED; 3) HED magnetic field diagnostics and devices; and 4) magnetized inertial fusion.

The organizers plan to have four oral sessions plus posters.

11.03 Plasma Applications to Ameliorate Covid 19
Igor Kaganovich (PPPL), Michael Keidar (GWU), Mikhail Shneider (Princeton), Christopher Mores (GWU), Mauricio Terrones (Penn State), Leonid Vasilyak (JIHT, Russia), Tiernan Casey (Sandia), and Georg Bauer (Frieburg, Germany)

The goals of the mini‐conference are twofold: 1) educate DPP community on science related to virus spread, testing and methods of decontamination, and 2) discuss plasma applications that help ameliorate Covid 19 pandemics.

The current COVID‐19 pandemic has generated worldwide awareness for the need to decontaminate the environment and to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. Due to SARSCoV‐ 2 (the virus that causes COVID‐19) being newly introduced into the human realm, there is still much uncertainty with regard to spreading of the virus and ways of decontamination. It has been reported that coronaviruses might survive over 3 days on common materials such as plastics, ceramics, glass and stainless steel. Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces are an important part of infection prevention and control of healthcare‐associated infections.

Plasma‐based systems might be capable of rapidly disinfecting surfaces as well as treating airborne viruses. Compared to current disinfection methods based on wet chemistry (biocidal chemicals), the plasma‐based technique would not cause corrosion of materials and would not create toxic chemicals. Plasma created nanoparticles, like silver, gold or other lower‐cost, metal‐oxide nanoparticles, including zinc oxide and copper oxide, can possess antibacterial and antiviral properties and can be used as passive protection against viruses. Carbon nanotubes can be used as a filter to filter out even smallest viruses. Nitrogen‐doped carbon nanotubes can capture and store viruses for a long time without deactivation therefore offering effective means to test decontamination methods. Plasma‐based ultraviolet (UV) sources have been long used for decontamination of water and surfaces. Challenge now is to make new designs that are small, cheap and safe for mass productions.

The organizers plan to have two oral sessions plus posters.

11.04 Growing an open source software ecosystem for plasma science
Erik T. Everson (UCLA), Nick Murphy (CfA), Ramiz Qudsi (Delaware), David Schaffner (Bryn Mawr College), Dominik Stańczak (University of Warsaw), Stephen Vincena (UCLA)

This mini-conference will outline how plasma research and education will benefit from collaborative development of an open source software ecosystem — a collection of software projects that are developed and co-evolve in the same environment. A software ecosystem by and for the plasma community would increase scientific reproducibility by providing a common set of well-tested and well-benchmarked functionality, reduce duplication of code between (and even within) research groups, decrease development time and cost to perform research, and reduce the learning curve for students by providing documentation that is informative and educational. This mini-conference will cover topics such as open source software as a resource for plasma physics, the current standing of open source software for the plasma community, community guidelines for developing sustainable open source code, scientific reproducibility, best practices for scientific software engineering, software as both a research and educational tool, and open community-driven development practices. By bringing the code developers and user community together in one setting, we will highlight the often overlooked impact software has on the field and discuss how current software can immediately impact research and education.

The organizers plan to have two oral sessions to allow for time for discussion and will include a poster session.

11.05 Transport in Non-ideal Multi-species Plasmas
Liam Stanton (San Jose State), Scott Bergeson (BYU), Michael Murillo (MSU)

This mini-conference will bring together leaders in transport physics from experiment, theory, simulation and data science for two sessions of oral presentations. Its purpose is to explore possible areas of overlap and to encourage collaboration between research groups in the area of non-ideal multi-species plasmas. Transport phenomena is a popular subject at DPP meetings, and the mini-conference will serve as a synergistic opportunity to address the particular issues associated with non-ideal plasmas mixtures.

Transport processes in plasmas can arise through a variety of dynamic phenomena ranging from mass and energy transfer (e.g., self-diffusion, inter-diffusion, thermal diffusion, viscosity, thermal conduction, stopping power, temperature relaxation, and electrical conduction) to wave damping, particulate drag, wake formation, and others as well. As plasmas are typically created under conditions far from equilibrium, a proper description of these processes is crucial to understanding their behavior, and the rise of increasingly higher energy experiments only exemplifies this.

The organizers will have two oral sessions and will include a poster session.