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Reconnection Scaling Experiment (RSX)

Primary Institution: Los Alamos National Laboratory
City: Los Alamos
State: NM
Job Duration: summer or longer term internships
Class Requirement: Completed Sophomore Year
Minimum GPA: 3.6
Position Type: Research
Discipline(s): Plasmas and Beam Physics
Description: Student projects at LANL - P-24 Plasma Physics group

Reconnection Scaling Experiment (RSX) T. Intrator, X. Sun, L. Dorf, M. Kostora
This is a unique experiment that creates current carrying channels made of plasma. These current ropes are not rigid, and are distorted by electromagnetic forces in three dimensional ways. One typical result of these relaxation processes is the formation of helical shapes via the kink instability. We are investigating three dimensional instability, evolution and non linear saturation of magnetized current systems. In astrophysical, solar, space and laboratory plasma settings, rocket propulsion, satellite communication and magnetically-confined fusion, these processes play a fundamental role For example distinct current-carrying flux tubes are the basic building blocks of the solar coronal plasma, especially during coronal eruptions and flares. A collaboration with T-15 theory group allows computational models to be compared with experimental data. This project involves building and calibrating a Mach probe that can detect plasma flow, and a triple probe to measure density, temperature and pressure.
Student qualifications, special skills
A quantitative background is helpful, but need not be in plasma physics. An interest in the basic plasma physics and/or engineering of the various gadgets we design and use is essential. These are hands on experimental projects. You furnish the enthusiasm and we will teach you the skills.

Overall objectives of this program
We are part of the Applied Science Internship Program at LANL (, which has the goal of nurturing critical skills and cultivating a future pool of staff members for LANL.

The student experience
Our students typically enjoy hands on experimental projects that have a substantial physics motivation, with a mentor who may be supervising 1 or 2 students. One goal is to publish the results. Projects can also focus on the physics and engineering of mechanical, computer, analog and digital electronics, pulsed power, vacuum systems, plasma guns, lasers and diagnostic systems. The summer student population typically numbers over 1200 with 10-20 in P-24 group, and many hundreds stay longer. We are part of the Applied Science Internship Program at LANL ( There is a plasma physics summer school with 2 lectures per week We also encourage work-study semesters or longer time scale participation at LANL, since technical and safety training consume some time at the beginning of each student's career at the laboratory. No classified work or clearance involved. A willingness to work hard and have fun in a strikingly picturesque mountainous community with access to the cosmopolitan city of Santa Fe is essential. We have an indoor Olympic size swimming pool, hiking and mountain biking trails abound, national forests border town for camping, historic Indian ruins to explore close by. Transportation, a bicycle (I ride mine to work), or a willingness to work are needed.

Weblink These P-24 Plasma Physics  projects and more in P-24 PDF format
T. Intrator
P-24 Plasma Physics Group
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Mail Stop E526, Los Alamos, NM  87545
505 665 2927 office
505 667 2397 FRX-L lab
505 667 7600 RSX lab
505 664 0954 student desks
LANL FAX     505 665 3552
LANL email
Benefits: Travel Reimbursement
Application Deadline: 02/05/2007
Job Website:

Research/Internship Opportunity Contact Information

Primary Contact: Tom Intrator
p24 plasma physics, ms e526
p24 plasma physics, ms e526
Los Alamos, NM 87545
Phone: 505 665 2927
Fax: 505 665 3552
Secondary Contact: Glen Wurden
p24 plasma physics, ms e526
p24 plasma physics, ms e526
Los Alamos, NM 87545
Phone: 505 667 5633
Fax: 505 665 3552
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