Matt is an experimental plasma physicist whose research has focused on fusion energy, magnetic confinement, plasma diagnostics, and transport mechanisms of particles, momentum, and energy. His work frequently involves high voltage, high current, and large amounts of stored energy, so safety is also a big interest of his. Matt earned his PhD in plasma physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working on a fusion experiment called the Madison Symmetric Torus (MST). From there, he went to Auburn University to work on another fusion experiment called the Compact Toroidal Hybrid (CTH). Both MST and CTH confine a plasma using magnetic fields and can heat a plasma to temperatures hotter than the surface of the Sun! While the details of how they do that are different, they are both toroidally shaped devices. Fusion energy would be an ideal energy source as it would provide lots of clean energy using a fuel source that is virtually unlimited, but more research is needed before fusion energy can be realized.
Matt is also interested in the interrelationship between laboratory and astrophysical plasmas and in the medical and industrial application of plasmas. He is currently developing several experiments at Concordia to serve as undergraduate research and educational tools. Students with interests in many fields such as astrophysics, materials science, or engineering can benefit from a foundational experience in experimental plasma physics research, where they are exposed to a breadth of technology (e.g., electronics, vacuum systems, and optics) and techniques (e.g., data analysis and computer programming). Matt has found that plasmas have a unique way of inspiring physics students because of their beauty, bizarre behavior, and applicability.