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Farrokh Najmabadi

Director, CER; Principal Investigator, PISCES, ARIES; Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

A plasma physicist, Professor Najmabadi has led international studies into fusion for power generation. He is an expert on promising technologies for containing fusion reactions, including magnetic bottles (the tokamak, stellarator, and Elmo Bump Torus) which use inertial forces to contain energy released by fusion reactions. Najmabadi pioneered new methods for studying high temperature effects in the small confines of a university lab, leading to better modeling of inertial fusion energy chambers and the damages they must be prepared to withstand. He uses laser pulses to momentarily generate plasma, the state of matter at temperatures so high that electrons "boil off." As long as reaction timescales are sufficiently narrow, energy inputs can be minimized. One candlepower applied to a tiny capsule of hydrogen over several billionths of a second provokes sudden temperature changes and shockwaves developing the same temperature profiles in small scale as in a chamber experiencing fusion. To make the technique useful, Najmabadi has developed instrumentation to track the high-speed reactions down to time scales measured in nanonseconds. The same instruments are being used to study interactions between lasers and material surfaces, with potential applications in nanomanufacturing.

Farrokh Najmabadi is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Directs the UCSD Center for Energy Research. He has authored over 140 articles and received several awards including 2003 UCSD Outstanding Engineering Professor and 2002 American Nuclear Society Fusion Energy Division Outstanding Achievement Award. Najmabadi received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982.