HIDRA Under Control!

August 11, 2017

Above: The HIDRA control station

For the first time since HIDRA arrived at the Center for Plasma-Material Interactions, thousands of amps of current ran through its magnetic coils – all controlled from one place.

HIDRA, the Hybrid Illinois Device for Research and Applications, arrived on site from Germany in late 2014. Since then, students and university staff have worked together under the direction of Professor Daniel Andruczyk to assemble the machine and commission all of its systems. Their efforts led to the successful creation of the first plasma in HIDRA, achieved just over one year ago in April, 2016.

In the past year, work has been done to develop and install a control system so that the entire machine can be run from a single control station. The control software was written by undergraduate student Dan Johnson and implemented with assistance from Quad Plus. Graduate student Rabel Rizkallah and undergraduates Andrew Shone and Zack Jeckell all contributed many long hours of work to prepare the machine for testing the new system.

Last week, the HIDRA team commissioned the control system and successfully ran thousands of amps through the machine’s magnetic coils. “This was really a major milestone”, according to CPMI director Professor David Ruzic. “We are fully capable now of running any current.”

Having full computer control over the magnets makes it possible for the operator to program in exactly how much current they want to flow through the coils and for exactly how long. This flexibility opens the door to running world-class experiments on HIDRA, and will support the team’s collaborations with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and the EAST experiment in China.