Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) was founded in 1951 by Lyman Spitzer *38 as a joint project between Princeton University and the US Department of Energy. PPPL conducts research on developing controlled nuclear fusion with hopes of refining fusion as a usable energy source and an alternative to fossil fuels. Research at the PPPL began under the code name Project Matterhorn and was classified by the US government while research for the Hydrogen Bomb was conducted by physicist John Wheeler. In 1958 weapons research at PPPL was terminated and the nuclear fusion research being conducted at PPPL by Lyman Spitzer was declassified to allow for international collaboration. The PPPL is located at Princeton’s James Forrestal Campus, just minutes from Princeton’s main campus.

Directors of the PPPL have included Lyman Spitzer (1951-1961), Melvin B. Gottlieb (1961-1980), Harold P. Furth (1981-1990), Ronald C. Davidson (1991-1996), Robert J. Goldston (1997-2009), Stewart Prager (2008 - 2016), and Steven Cowley (2018-present). One notable scholar was Katherine Weimer (1919-2000) who joined the theory group at PPPL as the first female research staff in 1957 and retired in 1984.