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Experimental Facilities


The P³ Laboratory at UCSD


The development of our new laboratory supports our present and future research projects. The laboratory is located in the Science and Engineering Research Facility (SERF), Room 153, on the UCSD main campus, in the same building as the P³ Group staff and offices. 

We presently operate a number of experiments in the laboratory. Our primary pulsed power device is a 200kA, 1 microsecond risetime generator which will primarily be used for wire-based plasma experiments. We also run a 30 kV coaxial vacuum gap experiment examining azimuthal symmetry of the breakdown, as well as a laser-produced plasma vacuum chamber for use with our laser systems.

A wide range of diagnostics are used to examine the plasmas we generate. These including imaging and emitted power measurements in the optical, EUV and x-ray ranges,  and optical and XUV spectroscopy. In addition, 2 lasers are available (Ekspla 335, 150ps, 500mJ, 532nm & 1064nm and Spectra Physics Quantaray Pro, 6.5ns, 2.5J, 532nm & 1064nm) which can generate plasmas from targets or diagnose them through laser backlighting (Shadowography, interferometry) or scattering (optical Thomson scattering).


Below are some current images of the laboratory, and this page will be updated as machines, equipment and capabilities come online. 

Rama: 750kA, 1.5us pulsed power generator


Bertha: 200 kA, 1us pulsed power generator


The high voltage coaxial vacuum gap breakdown experiment 

In-house machining capabilties

Off-Campus Facilties


Through various collaborations, the group has access to larger scale machines than are presently available on-campus. This allow the group to investigate a wider range of parameter space for our projects, and allows staff and students to interact with faculty, researchers and students at highly rated US and international universities as well as US national laboratories. 

Our principle resource is the Cornell University Laboratory of Plasma Studies , which operates the 1MA, COBRA machine and the 450 kA XP machine. Both these machines have extensive diagnostic suites, including x-ray power, laser imaging, self-emission imaging, x-ray and XUV spectroscopy, radiography and are supported my highly experienced engineering and technical staff. The P3 Group is a regular visitor and aspects of several projects have been enhanced by ulitizing the Cornell LPS team. 


Another primary resource is the MAGPIE team in the Plasma Physics Group at Imperial College London, UK. MAGPIE is a 1.4 MA high impedance driver, which allows a wide range of innovative loads to be driven to peak current. The P3 Group interacts with the MAGPIE team through simulation work on several projects, experimental studies principally of astrophysical systems, and through the bar at various conferences.


The Group is also involved in projects which take them to the 26 MA Z facility at Sandia National Laboratories.

Computational Facilities


We use several computational resources to run multi-dimensional Magnetic-hydrodyanmics (MHD) simulations of our plasma systems. Three of these are housed within the P³ group:


  • FIREBLADE: A 384-node, 1536 GB RAM computation cluster with 16 TB of storage

  • P3-VIS: A 24-node, 32 GB visualization station

  • HEX: A 6-core, 16 GB system desktop Linux system


We also have access to the San Diego Supercomputing Center based on the UCSD campus.

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