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Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


paul bonoli

Senior Research Scientist, Physics Research

paul bonoli Email:
Phone: (617) 253-0992
Address: Room NW17-121
Related links: Physics Research, Theory & Computation

Research Interests

Paul Bonoli specializes in theoretical and computational plasma physics in the areas of radio-frequency (RF) heating and current drive in toroidal confinement devices (tokamaks).  He has developed detailed simulation models for RF heating and current drive experiments, especially in the lower hybrid range of frequencies (LHRF).  These models include integrated wave propagation, Fokker Planck, and transport calculations and they have been used throughout the international fusion community. 


More recently he has become active in the use of massively parallel computing clusters to perform full-wave electromagnetic field simulations in the LH regime and to study mode conversion processes in the ion cyclotron range of frequencies (ICRF).  This work has been done in close collaboration with John Wright of the PSFC Theory Group.  Throughout his career, Paul has had a special interest in the problem of the “lower hybrid (LH) spectral gap” that is ubiquitous to LH current drive experiments.  In these experiments, LH waves are observed to damp efficiently and drive current despite the fact that the waves are injected at phase speeds where the population of electrons is too small to observe electron Landau damping. 


Early in his career, Paul did work to understand this phenomenon in terms of toroidicity induced variations in the LH wave speed.  Most recently he has worked with John Wright to understand this problem via spectral broadening due to diffraction effects that have been seen in LH full-wave simulations.


Cornell University, Ithaca, New York:  B.S. (1976) Electrical Engineering

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York:  M.S. (1978) Electrical Engineering

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York:  PhD. (1981) Plasma Physics

Biographical Sketch

Paul Bonoli received a PhD from Cornell University in 1981 under Professor Edward Ott.  The title of his dissertation was “The Effects of Toroidal Geometry and Scattering by Density Fluctuations on the Accessibility and Energy Deposition of Lower Hybrid Waves”.  He then joined the Physics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a post-doctoral associate under Professors Bruno Coppi and Miklos Porkolab. 

In 1984 he became a research scientist at the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT.  He then joined the research staff at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center in 1986 and rose to the rank of Principal Research Scientist in 1989.  In 1992, he became leader of the RF Interactions and Modeling Group at the PSFC.  Paul Bonoli is currently the Principal Investigator at MIT for the “Numerical Computation of Wave-Plasma Interactions SciDAC Project” funded by the Office of Fusion Energy Science and for the NSTX High Harmonic Heating and Current Drive Project at MIT. 

He is also now the co US Team Leader of the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) Working Group on Steady State Operation in ITER.  Paul is a member of the American Physical Society and he is now serving as a member of the Executive Committee of the International Sherwood Controlled Fusion Theory Conference.  

Selected Publications

"Full-wave Electromagnetic Field Simulations in the Lower-Hybrid Range of Frequencies", P. T. Bonoli et al., Bull. American Phys. Soc. 49, p. 325, Invited paper RI13 (2004).

"Full Wave Simulations of Fast Wave Mode Conversion and Lower Hybrid Wave Propagation in Tokamaks", J.C. Wright, P.T. Bonoli, M. Brambilla, F. Meo, E .D’Azevedo, D. B. Batchelor, E. F. Jaeger, L. A. Berry, C. K. Phillips and A. Pletzer, Physics of Plasmas 11, 2473 (2004).

"Mode Conversion Electron Heating in Alcator C-Mod: Theory and Experiment", P.T. Bonoli, M. Brambilla, E. Nelson-Melby, C.K. Philips, M. Porkolab et al., Physics of Plasmas 7, 1886 (2000).

"Modeling of Advanced Tokamak Scenarios with LHCD in Alcator C-Mod", P.T. Bonoli, R.R. Parker, M. Porkolab, J.J Ramos, S.J. Wukitch, Y. Takase, S. Bernabei, J.C. Hosea, G. Schilling, J.R. Wilson, Nuclear Fusion 40, 1251 (2000).

"Negative Magnetic Shear Modes of Operation in the Alcator C-Mod Tokamak Near the Beat Limit", P.T. Bonoli, M. Porkolab, J. Ramos, W. Nevins, and C. Kessel, Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 39, 223 (1997).

"Possible Achievement of Second Stability by Means of Lower Hybrid Current Drive", P.T. Bonoli, M. Porkolab, J.J. Ramos, D.T. Blackfield, R.S. Devoto, and M.E. Fenstermacher, Nuclear Fusion 30, 533 (1990).

"Simulation Model for Lower Hybrid Current Drive", P. T. Bonoli and R. C. Englade, The Physics of Fluids 29, 2937 (1986).

"Toroidal and Scattering Effects of Lower Hybrid Waves in a Tokamak with Density Fluctuations", P. T. Bonoli, and E. Ott, The Physics of Fluids 25, 359 (1982).

"Accessibility and Energy Deposition of Lower Hybrid Waves in a Tokamak with Density Fluctuations", P. T. Bonoli, and E. Ott, Physical Review Letters 46, 424 (1981).



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