As theoretical physicists...

We aim to understand the phenomenology of plasma in the laboratory and in the cosmos. We use mathematical models and computer simulations to explain how plasmas move, interact with magnetic fields and boundaries, and evolve on various scales.

Working with collaborators in the U.S. and around the world, we advance fundamental physics concepts that guide experiments and project applications, such as the development of magnetic fusion energy.

This website offers information about our group members, research activities, and publications. We invite you to browse it and to contact us with any questions.

News and Announcements

Cap of a puff of turbulence

Avalanching article featured as AIP Scilight

We're thrilled that Robin Heinonen and Pat Diamond's new article describing a unified model of turbulence spreading and avalanching was selected as an AIP Scilight! Scilights summarize the significance of the most interesting new physical science research published across AIP Publishing journals. Congratulations, Robin!

"Uncovering what triggers avalanches in plasma" by Chris Patrick

Read Scilight article online.
Download Scilight article.

Read the research article.

Learn more about Robin.

Roald Sagdeev

Interview with Roald Sagdeev

Professor Diamond's oral history interview with Professor Roald Z. Sagdeev is now published in the European Physical Journal H., as part of a special issue on the history of plasma physics.

This interview presents Roald Z. Sagdeev's story of plasma physics in Russia (1956-1988). It chronicles the Russian school's achievements in basic, laboratory, fusion, and space plasma physics. The interview includes Sagdeev's memories of his graduate school days in Moscow and his work at several institutes—Kurchatov, IKI, and the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics. He also shares many stories of his collaborations and friendships with notable scientists, including Marshall Rosenbluth, Mikhail Leontovich, Alec Galeev, and Vladimir Zakharov. The conversation reflects Sagdeev's unique and significant influence in modern plasma theory, Russian space exploration and his support of international cooperation for the advancement of humanity.

Special thanks to Dr. Mikhail Malkov for participating in the seventh discussion, "Space plasma physics and the IKI years."

We hope you'll enjoy hearing Prof. Sagdeev's stories in his own words!

Download pdf

Learn more about Roald Sagdeev

SWIP logo

1st Chengdu Theory Festival

Thank you to the scientists who joined us for last month's Chengdu Theory Festival. You made this first-ever conference an incredible success! Special thanks to the organizers and the Southwestern Institute of Physics for hosting more than 120 students and 25 lecturers.

The Chengdu Theory Festival aims to promote collaboration and education at the cutting edge of research in theoretical fusion plasma physics and related fields. Early career scientists, postdocs, and PhD students have in-depth discussions with leading researchers and collaborate on current theory (similar to Festival de Theorie).

From our UC San Diego research group, Prof. Pat Diamond and Prof. George Tynan gave lectures on turbulence, drift waves, and density limits. Prof. Pat Diamond also served as chair of the Scientific Organizing Committee.

Again, thank you to everyone who attended and made this festival possible! We look forward to seeing you at the next Chengdu Theory Festival. Visit the conference website to view topics, learn more about SWIP's Center for Fusion Science, and find lectures and videos posted from the conference.

Participants of the First Chengdu Theory Festival 2018

Rima Hajjar

Rima Wins at TTF

Congratulations to Rima, who won a Student Presentation Award at the U.S. Transport Task Force (TTF) Workshop in May.

Poster title: "Dynamics of Zonal Shear Collapse in Hydrodynamic Electron Limit ↔ Transport Physics of the Density Limit"

View Presentation

Learn more about Rima

Xiang Fan presenting at a 2017 conference

Xiang Wins at Sherwood

Congratulations to Xiang Fan, who won a Student Poster Award at the Sherwood Fusion Theory Conference in April.

Poster title: "Turbulence and Transport in Elastic Media: A New Look at Classic Themes"

View Presentation

Learn more about Xiang

color-coded representation of planaria fission process, figure 3a from PNAS paper

Biomechanics research highlighted in Nature Physics

We're thrilled that our recent PNAS paper on fission biomechanics in planaria flatworms was a Research Highlight in the November 2017 issue of Nature Physics.

Get the full PNAS paper.

Upcoming Seminars

No seminars are scheduled at this time. Please check back soon.


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Latest Publications

Subcritical Turbulence Spreading and Avalance Birth
Heinonen, R. and P.H. Diamond
Phys. Plasmas 26, 030701, 2019; doi:10.1063/1.5083176
[download PDF]

E x B Flow Shear Mitigates Ballooning-driven Edge-localized Modes at High Collisionality: Experiment and Simulation
Kong, D.F., X.Q. Xu, P.H. Diamond, J.G. Chen, C.B. Huang, T. Lan, X. Gao, J.G. Li, and the EAST Team
Nucl. Fusion 59, 016016, 2019; doi:10.1088/1741-4326/aaef0c
[download PDF]

Radial Density and Heat Fluxes Description in the Velocity Space: Nonlinear Simulations and Quasi-linear Calculations
Médina, J., M. Lesur, E. Gravier, T. Réveillé, M. Idouakass, T. Drouot, P. Bertrand, T. Cartier-Michaud, X. Garbet, and P.H. Diamond
Phys. Plasmas 25, 122304, 2018; doi:10.1063/1.5057420
[download PDF]

Editorial Introduction to the Special Issue "Plasma Physics in the 20th Century as Told by Players"
Diamond, P.H., U. Frisch, and Y. Pomeau
Eur. Phys. J. H., 2018 ; doi:10.1140/epjh/e2018-90061-5
[download PDF]

An Interview with Roald Sagdeev: His Story of Plasma Physics in Russia, 1956-1988
Sagdeev, R.Z. and P.H. Diamond
Eur. Phys. J. H., 2018; doi:10.1140/epjh/e2018-90042-3
[pdf, accepted manuscript]

Circulation conservation and vortex breakup in magnetohydrodynamics at low magnetic Prandtl number
Dritschel, D.G., P.H. Diamond, and S.M. Tobias
J. Fluid Mech. 857: 38-60, 2018; doi:10.1017/jfm.2018.719
[pdf, author's final version]

Mesoscopic Transport Events and the Breakdown of Fick’s Law for Turbulent Fluxes
Hahm, T.S. and P.H. Diamond
J. Korean Phys. Soc. 73(6), 747-792, 2018; doi:10.3938/jkps.73.747
[pdf, author's final version]

More publications



We develop theory related to plasma and fusion science, including:

  • Nonlinear dynamics of plasmas and fluids
  • Anomalous transport
  • Self-organized criticality in confined plasma
  • L-H transition, transport barrier physics
  • Dynamo theory
  • Nonlinear waves in space plasma

Learn more.



Our work is primarily funded by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences of the U.S. Department of Energy (Grant No. DE-FG02-04ER54738).



In memory of Professor Marshall N. Rosenbluth, an American plasma physicist and UCSD professor of enormous intellect, integrity, generosity, and vision.