Eric Sander Lavine

Eric Sander Lavine

Assistant Research Professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering


Dr. Lavine received his Ph.D. in the Aeronautics and Astronautics department at the University of Washington for his work on the MOCHI Labjet experiment—an astrophysically relevant laboratory plasma jet with self-organized magnetic fields and stabilizing helical shear flows. He joined the Cornell Laboratory of Plasma Studies in the spring of 2018 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, focusing on the dynamics and stability of gas-puff z-pinch implosions. His expertise is in the field of experimental high energy density (HED) plasma physics, where he has acquired significant experience in the application of pulsed-power technologies and advanced diagnostics. His current research interests include the dynamics of z-pinch implosions, laboratory astrophysics, plasma relaxation and self-organization, power-flow, plasma turbulence, and diagnostic development. His overarching scientific mission is to improve the understanding of plasma dynamics that inform magnetic, inertial, and magneto-inertial fusion, intense radiation sources, advanced space propulsion, and astrophysical plasmas.

Research Interests

Plasma dynamics and self-organization:

Unlike the familiar states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) in which particle interactions are governed by short-range collisions, particles in a plasma also exhibit long-range interactions (i.e., collective motion) mediated by electric and magnetic fields. From a fluid point of view, these fields can drive bulk plasma flows and vice versa. Understanding these interactions and the corresponding effect on overall plasma stability remains a central problem in plasma physics and informs magnetic, inertial, and magneto-inertial fusion concepts, advanced space propulsion, and the dynamics of astrophysical plasmas. In many cases, the spontaneous emergence of flows, magnetic structures, and instabilities highlights the need for careful consideration of the coupling between plasma flows and electromagnetic fields during plasma self-organization and relaxation. A major focus of my research therefore aims to elucidate the details of these interactions, whether it be understanding instability growth and turbulence in gas-puff z-pinch implosions, or magnetically driven helical shear flows in astrophysically relevant laboratory plasma jets.


Pulsed-power driven magneto-inertial fusion (MIF) schemes are particularly attractive due to the high coupling efficiency, magnetically reduced thermal transport, and magnetically enhanced alpha heating. These features open a wide new parameter space for achieving fusion that bridges the gap between traditional magnetic and inertial confinement approaches. The density regime of MIF is already a relatively unexplored area of magnetized plasma physics, allowing for many opportunities of fundamental research. However, to produce such plasmas in the first place, the details of driver-target coupling are critically important. For example, driver currents in excess of 60 MA with rise times of hundreds of nanoseconds are believed to be required to achieve fusion ignition for a variety of pulsed-power-driven concepts. Delivering such currents from large capacitor banks to small targets several cm in height and tens to hundreds of microns in diameter at stagnation is an extreme challenge. Fundamental questions associated with this challenge include: Can we accurately predict the current distribution and delivery to imploding targets? What limits current delivery to small radii? How is the current delivery affected by the changing load inductance during an implosion? What limits current delivery through magnetically insulated transmission lines, and can material and surface conditions improve performance?

Diagnostic Development:

Diagnostics are critical for measuring plasma conditions, understanding plasma dynamics, and assessing progress towards fusion conditions. However, diagnosing such extreme states of matter, which persist in very small regions in space and time is not trivial. In the Laboratory of Plasma Studies, we are proud to boast one of the best diagnostic suites of any University-scale pulsed-power driver in the world. Optical diagnostics include visible, UV, and X-ray imaging and spectroscopy (both time gated, and streaked). Laser-based diagnostics include optical Thomson scattering, interferometry, Faraday polarimetry, and imaging refractometry. X-ray sources known as x-pinches, can be leveraged for point radiography to study the properties of near-solid density plasmas at millions of degrees. And other standard probes such as inductive loop probes to measure magnetic fields, photodetectors to measure x-ray emission, and more are available in the laboratory. Many of the diagnostics listed above can be fielded simultaneously on a single experimental shot to provide a comprehensive picture of the plasma conditions. Improving upon these diagnostics and developing new methods is an ongoing and important aspect of our research.

Selected Publications

  • E.S. Lavine, S. You, “Helical shear-flow stabilization of an astrophysically relevant laboratory plasma jet,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 123, 145002 (2019). 
  • E. S. Lavine, S. You, “Observations of a plectonemic configuration in a stable magnetized plasma jet,” Phys. Plasmas, 28, 040703 (2021). 
  • E. S. Lavine, S. V. R. Rocco, J. T. Banasek, W. M. Potter, J. B. Greenly, H. Wilhelm, N. Qi, D. A. Hammer, and B. R. Kusse, “Implosion dynamics of triple-nozzle gas-puff z pinches on COBRA,” Phys. Plasmas, 28, 0222703 (2021). 
  • E. S. Lavine, S. V. R. Rocco, W. M. Potter, J. Angel, E. Freeman, J. T. Banasek, J. Lawson, J. B. Greenly, H. Wilhelm, D. A. Hammer, and B. R. Kusse, “Measurements of the imploding plasma sheath in triple-nozzle gas-puff z-pinches,” Phys. Plasmas, 29, 062702 (2022). 
  • P. C. Campbell, T. M. Jones, J. M. Woolstrum, N. M. Jordan, P. F. Schmit, J. B. Greenly, W. M. Potter, E. S. Lavine, B. R. Kusse, D. A. Hammer, and R. D. McBride, “Stabilization of liner implosions via a dynamic screw pinch,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 3 (2020). 

Selected Awards and Honors

  • 2 Year DOE grant to study magnetically driven helical shear flows in laboratory astrophysical jets (2022)
  • 3 Year collaborative contract with Sandia National Laboratory to investigate electrode surface materials and treatments for maximizing power flow. (2023)
  • Eleanor A. Samworth Prize in Physics – Skidmore College (2011)
  • Theodore H. and Marie M. Sarchin Endowed Fellowship in engineering – University of Washington (2011)


  • BA – Physics, Skidmore College, 2011
  • MSAA – Aeronautics & Astronautics, University of Washington, 2013
  • Ph.D. – Aeronautics & Astronautics, University of Washington, 2018