NPRE 598 – Plasma Waves

Course Description

The course covers the fundamental physics of plasma waves and plasma heating, including an overview the techniques and the technologies used in thermonuclear fusion reactors for plasma heating and current drive: ion cyclotron heating, electron cyclotron, lower hybrid, electron Bernstein, and neutral beam injection. 


Prof. Davide Curreli,
Office Phone Number: (217) 300-1787
104 South Wright Street, Urbana IL 61801

Office Hours

Immediately after class or by appointment by email to the instructor.



  • NPRE 421; Suggested: ECE 329, PHYS 435/436, or equivalent


  • [30%] Homework
  • [30%] Midterm Quiz
  • [40%] Final Exam


  1. Lecture Notes
  2. Donald G. Swanson, Plasma Waves, 2nd Edition, Taylor and Francis, 2003
  3. Francis F. Chen, Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion. Springer; 3rd edition, 2016

Other Resources

  1. Griffith, Introduction to Electrodynamics, 4th edition, Pearson Ed. October 6, 2012
  2. Marco Brambilla, Kinetic Theory of Plasma Waves: Homogeneous Plasmas, Oxford Univ. Press, 1st edition, 1998
  3. Thomas H. Stix, Waves in Plasmas, AOI, 1997
  4. John Wesson, Tokamaks, Oxford Univ. Press, USA, 4th edition, 2011

Plasma & Computing

  • DOE 2009 Scientific Grand Challenges – Fusion Energy Sciences and The Role of Computing at the Extreme Scale (Report PDF 9.7 Mb)
  • DOE 2015 Workshop on Integrated Simulations for Magnetic Fusion Energy Sciences (Report PDF 23.3 Mb; USBPO page; Whitepapers)
  • Whitehouse Executive Order July 29, 2015 — Creating a National Strategic Computing Initiative (link)
  • DOE 2016 DOE Office of Science Exascale Requirements Reviews: Target 2020-2025 (link)
  • USBPO Website (link)

Course Material (Repository)

Course Calendar

Course Contents 

  1. Electromagnetic Wave Propagation
    1. Maxwell Equations; conservation laws of EM fields
    2. EM waves in vacuum, isotropic media, and conductors
    3. Constitutive Relations and Dispersion Relation
  2. Linear Theory of Plasma Waves
    1. Cold Plasma Waves
      1. Cold Plasma Dispersion Relation
      2. Principal Solutions: O, X, R, L
      3. Frequency Plots
      4. CMA diagram
    2. Waves in Fluid Plasmas
      1. Hydrodynamic and MHD waves
      2. Acoustic Modes
    3. Kinetic Theory of Plasma Waves
      1. Landau Damping
      2. Electron Bernstein Waves
      3. Hot Tensor
  3. Nonlinear Theory of Plasma Waves
    1. Quasi-linear theory
    2. Waves in inhomogeneous plasmas
    3. Solitary Waves and Solitons
    4. Parametric Instabilities
  4. Heating Techniques and Current Drive
    1. Ohmic Heating
    2. Neutral Beam Injectors
    3. ICRH
    4. ECRH
    5. EBW
    6. Current Drive: LH and EC
  5. Heating Technologies
    1. Waveguides
    2. Cavity Magnetrons
    3. Klystrons
    4. Gyrotrons