I study plasmas, the hot matter which make up most of the universe. I am an experimental physicist, so I like being in the lab, looking at data, and saying “huh, that’s odd.” I mostly study high-energy-density-plasmas, which is a catch-all name for plasmas which are hot and dense, which distinguishes them from magnetically confined plasmas (which are hot and sparse) and atmospheric discharges used in industry (which are cold and dense).
In particular, I create plasmas using intense electrical currents (around 1 MA), which heat initially solid materials to the plasma state. This processes also generates very large magnetic fields (10s T or more) which accelerate the plasmas to high speeds (100s km/s). These hot, dense, magnetised plasmas are ideal for testing fundamental concepts in plasma physics, and mimicking the extreme conditions found in astrophysical objects.
I’m an assistant professor at the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department at MIT, where I’m developing a new pulsed-power generator for producing high-energy-density plasmas. You can find out more about what I’m working on in my Research Interests or in my Plasma Physics Blog. Previously I worked as a graduate student and post doc at the MAGPIE pulsed power generator at Imperial College London.
Unlike most of the universe, the Earth is not a plasma, which allows me to go hiking, canyoning, caving, ski touring and so on when I’m not in the lab, which you can find in my Adventure Blog. The header photo is an image from the underground campsite I helped build, 600 m below the surface of the Earth in the Julian Alps, Slovenia, whilst on expedition with Imperial College Caving Club.