Daniel S. Clark Wins 2018 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics

Top Award in the Field of Plasma Physics Awarded for Work in Modeling Nuclear Fusion Ignition

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 1, 2018 – AIP Publishing has announced its selection of Daniel S. Clark, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and leader of the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) Capsule Modeling Working Group within the inertial confinement fusion (ICF) Program, as the winner of the 2018 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics.

The annual award is presented by AIP Publishing in collaboration with the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Plasma Physics, to recognize outstanding plasma physics research by an author published in the journal Physics of Plasmas.

"AIP Publishing and Physics of Plasmas are delighted to award Daniel S. Clark the 2018 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasmas Physics," said Jason Wilde, chief publishing officer at AIP Publishing. "Now in its third year, this award is in honor of the late Ron Davidson, the founding Editor-in-Chief of Physics of Plasmas who served for 25 years."

The Physics of Plasmas editorial board selected Clark from among “the most highly cited and top downloaded articles from Physics of Plasmas during the past five years.” His paper, “Detailed implosion modeling of deuterium-tritium layered experiments on the National Ignition Facility,” Physics of Plasmas 20, 056318 (2013), reported state-of-the-art, high-resolution 3D modeling of National Ignition Campaign implosions, that continues to guide implosion design today, with its detailed incorporation of all known sources of hydrodynamic perturbation and drive asymmetry. The paper was co-authored with Denise Hinkel, Dave Eder, Ogden Jones, Steve Haan, Bruce Hammel, Marty Marinak, Jose Milovich, Harry Robey, Larry Suter, and Richard Town.

The scientific challenge of ignition within the laboratory was “irresistible” for Clark, who joined the LLNL straight out of graduate school. “The paper was written at the beginning of the national ignition campaign, and things weren’t going as expected,” said Clark. “It was an attempt to see if we could explain what was happening.”

The paper recognized by this award didn’t succeed on its own in modeling the data, but it led to the development of models with a predictive capability, which Clark and colleagues published in two subsequent papers: “Radiation hydrodynamics modeling of the highest compression inertial confinement fusion ignition experiment from the National Ignition Campaign,” Physics of Plasmas 22, 022703 (2015) and “Three-dimensional simulations of low foot and high foot implosion experiments on the National Ignition Facility,” Physics of Plasmas 23, 056302 (2016).

“We were advancing the frontier in modeling and in how we understood these implosions,” said Clark, explaining that the model has “continued to evolve,” improving in fidelity as they add in more effects.

Clark said he was “surprised” when he got the call about the award, describing Ronald Davidson as a “titan of plasma physics,” whom he had the privilege to learn from in graduate school. “It’s awesome to get recognized by something that bears his name,” said Clark, who has agreed to write a prospectus article for Physics of Plasmas.

The award, which includes a cash prize of $5,000, will be presented to Dan Clark on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, during the Physics of Plasmas reception at the APS Division of Plasma Physics Meeting in Portland, OR, held in honor of the authors and invited speakers.

About the Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics

The award is provided by AIP Publishing in honor of Ronald Davidson’s exceptional contributions as Editor-in-Chief of Physics of Plasmas for 25 years. The annual award of $5,000 is presented in collaboration with the American Physical Society's Division of Plasma Physics and recognizes outstanding plasma physics research by a Physics of Plasmas author.

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