In Their Own Words: Fusion Researchers Highlight Opportunities at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility

New video celebrates people, culture, and mission at DIII-D

San Diego, Oct. 17 – The DIII-D National Fusion Facility this week is celebrating the outstanding personnel who work at the facility. In a new video that introduces the facility, its mission, and its workforce, six individuals from General Atomics (GA) and collaborating user institutions describe their experiences working at DIII-D.

“The DIII-D National Fusion Facility is one of the cornerstones of the U.S. fusion energy research efforts. Our science program ranks among the best in the world, but our people are what truly make us shine,” said Dr. Richard Buttery, Director of the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. “We are incredibly fortunate to have the very best talent here, from early-career researchers to world-recognized leaders in our field. I am proud to be able to feature just a few of our standout people to help tell the story of our facility, our mission, and most importantly, our team.”


Featured in the video are:

  • Dr. Shawn Tang (Postdoctoral Researcher, Oak Ridge Associated Universities), a scientist researching helicon waves as an additional source of driving current in the fusion plasma
  • Dr. Igor Bykov (General Atomics), a researcher in DIII-D’s operations group, which oversees experiments during the scientific research campaigns
  • Dr. Julius Damba (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of California, Los Angeles), a diagnostician who studies turbulence in the DIII-D plasma to make fusion energy more efficient
  • Dr. Alicia Dautt-Silva (General Atomics), an engineer who works in robotics to enable longer run-times and faster maintenance in future fusion machines
  • Dr. Dinh Truong (Postdoctoral Researcher, Sandia National Laboratory), a scientist researching plasma fluctuations and turbulence to improve efficiency
  • Mr. Rigo Brambila (General Atomics), a technician who maintains the DIII-D gyrotron complex, one of the major heating systems used to create fusion plasma at the facility

DIII-D is the largest operating magnetic fusion research facility in the United States and is operated by GA for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The heart of the facility is a tokamak that uses powerful electromagnets to produce a doughnut-shaped magnetic bottle for confining a fusion plasma.

Plasma is the fourth state of matter in which electrons are stripped from the atoms, producing a highly ionized “soup” of nuclei and electrons that can be controlled by magnetic fields. In DIII-D, plasma is routinely heated to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius, approximately 10 times hotter than the Sun. At such extremely high temperatures, and under enormous pressures created by the electromagnets, hydrogen isotopes fuse together to create helium and release energy.

“When I learned about what fusion was, I felt like, wow, that seems like the solution. We have so many issues with the climate right now, and just being in fusion makes me feel like I'm making some kind of meaningful impact on the world,” said Dr. Shawn Tang.

“I've been here more than half of my life, and I've had the opportunity to work with some very intelligent individuals. We have a lot of early-career researchers here now, and we have collaborators that come here from all over the world. We are all so fortunate to have the opportunity to come here and run experiments on this machine, knowing the history that we have,” said Rigo Brambila.

“DIII-D works very closely with universities as collaborators, and as a result, it provides great opportunities for post-docs and grad students to gain experience working in such a big laboratory… It makes it easy for early career scientists to conduct their research in this unique facility,” said Dr. Julius Damba.

About General Atomics. Since the dawn of the atomic age, General Atomics innovations have advanced the state of the art across the full spectrum of science and technology – from nuclear energy and defense to medicine and high-performance computing. Behind a talented global team of scientists, engineers, and professionals, GA’s unique experience and capabilities continue to deliver safe, sustainable, economical, and innovative solutions to meet growing global demands.

About the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. DIII-D is the largest magnetic fusion research facility in the U.S. and has been the site of numerous pioneering contributions to the development of fusion energy science. DIII-D continues the drive toward practical fusion energy with critical research conducted in collaboration with more than 800 participants and over 400 actively contributing scientists representing over 100 institutions worldwide. As a U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science User Facility, participation in DIII-D research is open to all interested parties. For more information, visit

For more information contact:
Evan Polisar
Strategic Communications Manager

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