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Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Miklos Porkolab

Professor of Physics

miklos porkolab Email:
Phone: (617) 253-8448
Address: Room NW16-288
Related links: Physics Research,
MIT Plasma Science & Fusion Center

Area of Physics:

Plasma Physics

Research Interests

Controlled fusion research, radio frequency heating of plasma, experimental studies of plasma turbulence, and basic plasma physics, including magnetic reconnection.

Biographical Sketch

Professor Miklos Porkolab received his Ph.D. at Stanford University in 1967, and thereafter joined the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory where he rose to the position of Senior Research Physicist and Lecturer with the rank of Professor in the Astrophysical Sciences Department in 1975. While at Princeton University, Professor Porkolab carried out pioneering experimental research in the area of nonlinear wave-wave and wave-particle interactions, parametric instabilities and high power RF wave-plasma interactions in tokamak fusion plasmas.

Professor Porkolab spent 1976 at the Max Planck Institute in Garching, Germany, under the auspices of the Humboldt Foundation as a winner of the "US Senior Scientist Award." In 1977, he joined MIT as a professor in the Physics Department and since then he has led several pioneering experiments in radio frequency heating and noninductive current drive on the Versator II, and the Alcator C and C-Mod tokamaks. For this work, Professor Porkolab shared the 1984 American Physical Society Excellence in Plasma Research Award (now the John Dawson Award).

From 1991–2001 he served as Editor of Physics Letters A, Plasma Physics and Fluid Dynamics subsection. He also represented the U. S. Plasma Physics community for six years on the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) Commission–16 (Plasma Physics) (1991-1997). From 1992–95, he served as a member of the National Research Council Subpanel on Plasma Science. In 1999, he served as Chair, Plasma Physics Division, American Physical Society. 

Professor Porkolab is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2007 he was awarded The Karoly Simony Memorial Plaque and Prize by the Hungarian Nuclear Society. In 2009 Prof. Porkolab won the James Clerk Maxwell Prize of the American Physical Society. In 2010 Prof Porkolab was awarded the Fusion Power Associates Distinguished Career Award. In 2013 Professor Porkolab was awarded the Hannes Alfvén Prize of the European Physical Society.

Professor Porkolab's current research interests include experimental and theoretical studies  of plasma turbulence and transport as well as measuring  RF waves with phase contrast imaging techniques in high temperature tokamak plasmas. Other topics of interest include magnetic reconnection studies in laboratory plasmas as well as  inertial-confinement fusion.  

In 1995 he became the Director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT, leading in that capacity until December 2014.


Selected Publications

  • Plasma Instabilities Due to Ion Temperature Gradients", Miklos Porkolab, Nucl. Fusion 8, 29-36 (1968).
  • "Instabilities and Induced Scattering due to Nonlinear Landau Damping of Longitudinal Plasma Waves in a       Magnetic Field'', M. Porkolab and R.P.H. Chang, Phys. Fluids 15, 283-296 (1972).
  • "Nonlinear Wave Effects in Laboratory Plasmas: A Comparison Between Theory and Experiment", M. Porkolab and       R.P.H. Chang, Reviews of Modern Phys. 50, 745 (1978).
  • "Observations of Lower-Hybrid Current Drive at High Densities in the Alcator C Tokamak", M. Porkolab, J.J. Schuss,       B. Lloyd et al., Physical Review Letters 53, 450 (1984).
  • "Ion Bernstein Wave Heating and Improved Confinement on the Alcator-C Tokamak,'' J.D. Moody, M. Porkolab,       C.L. Fiore, F.S. McDermott, Y. Takase, J. Terry and S.M. Wolfe, Phys. Rev. Lett. 60, 298 (1988).
  • "Signature of Turbulent Zonal Flows Observed in the DIII D Tokamak," S. Coda, M. Porkolab, K.H. Burrell, Physical       Review Letters 86, 4835 (2001).
  • "Edge Ion Heating and Parametric Decay during Injection of Ion Cyclotron Resonance Frequency Power on the       Alcator C-Mod Tokamak," J.C. Rost, M. Porkolab, R.L. Boivin, Phys. of Plasmas 9, 1262 (2002).
  • “Transport and Turbulence Studies in the Linear Ohmic Confinement Regime in Alcator C-Mod,” M. Porkolab, J.        Dorris, P. Ennever et al.,  Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 54, 124029 (2012) 



Interview witih Miklos Porkolab (Geneva Tribune March 3, 2010, English, French)


77 Massachusetts Avenue, NW16, Cambridge, MA 02139,


massachusetts institute of technology