Applying AutomationDirect Products

I did my thesis work in the ZaP Flow Z-Pinch Lab at the University of Washington: (

ZaP Flow Z-Pinch Experiment

The ZaP Flow Z-Pinch Experiment is a basic plasma physics experiment which investigates the effects of sheared flow on the stability of magnetically confined plasma in a Z-pinch configuration. Possible applications of this technology include use as a controlled fusion device for energy production, a fusion thruster for space propulsion, or an extreme ultraviolet light source for lithography in integrated circuit manufacturing.

Previously, creating a single plasma pulse required one or more operators to initialize all applicable measurement instruments, monitor and control the vacuum system, control the charging of the experiment’s capacitor banks, manually trigger the experiment at the desired capacitor bank charge, and store all acquired data. I installed, wired, and programmed a PLC to automate the entire sequence for creating each plasma pulse.

The PLC controls the vacuum system, charges the capacitor banks, and triggers the experiment. A graphical user interface allows an operator to initialize and monitor the status of the PLC and the experiment. The GUI also calls the data acquisition, storage, and analysis programs automatically for each plasma pulse.


Originally Published: Dec. 1, 2009