Lawrenceville Plasma Physics was founded in 1974 in Lawrenceville, NJ, by Eric Lerner. LPP was incorporated in 2003 and built its lab in Middlesex, NJ, in 2009. Our primary research device, "Focus Fusion-1" became operational in Oct. 2009, and continues to make progress toward our goal of clean fusion energy.
Eric J. Lerner, President
Eric Lerner has been active in dense plasma focus (DPF) research for over 25 years. Beginning in 1984, he developed a detailed quantitative theory of the functioning of DPF. Based on this theory, he proposed that the DPF could achieve high ion and electron energies at high densities, suitable for advanced fuel fusion and space propulsion. Under a series of contracts with JPL, he planned and participated in carrying out experiments that tested and confirmed this theory. In addition, he developed an original model of the role of the strong magnetic field effect on DPF functioning, showing that this effect could have a large effect on increasing ion temperature and decreasing electron temperature, which would reduce unwanted X-ray cooling of the plasma. He is a leading researcher in cosmology and astrophysics, developing original, plasma-based theories of quasars, large-scale structures and other phenomena of the Universe. He was recently a Visiting Astronomer at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago, Chile. As a writer about science and technology, he is the author of over 600 articles. Mr. Lerner received a B.A. in Physics from Columbia University and did graduate work in physics at the University of Maryland.
Aaron Blake joined LPP in February 2005 and serves as Chief Financial Officer. He proposed the idea of injecting angular momentum into the plasma filaments, which was written into the patent. He received his B.A. in Social Work from Boise State University in 1999 and his MBA in 2005 from Trident University International. He served in the USAF for 9 years as a manpower and personnel officer prior to joining LPP full time, including leadership positions such as flight commander, executive officer to a wing commander, squadron section commander (2X), and chief of general officer matters at HQ USCENTCOM. He deployed to Bogota, Colombia, in 2007 as an operations officer and chief of the personnel accountability center. He founded two successful startup companies in the 90s.
Derek Shannon has been involved with LPP since 2005 and now serves as Director of Business Development while supporting lab operations (aka high voltage guinea pig). He received his BS in Geobiology from Caltech in 2002, where he was president of the Mars Society chapter. He hopes Focus Fusion technology will accelerate the race to the Red Planet in addition to providing environmental benefits on Earth. In 2006 he received an MS in Geobiology and Astrobiology from USC, along with a certificate in technology commercialization from the USC Marshall School of Business. He has experience working with start-ups pursuing a variety of truly disruptive breakthroughs, from high strength nanomaterials to maglev transit and artificial intelligence. He was a project manager and "AI Psychologist" at AdaptiveAI in Playa del Rey, CA before joining LPP full-time in September 2010 for the final push for fusion feasibility.
Fred Van Roessel joined LPP in July, 2010 as a Research Electrical Engineer. He started hiscareer in the Television Group at Philips Research Laboratories in the Netherlands. He stayedwith Philips when he emigrated to the US, and was responsible for Broadcast Color CameraDevelopment. Later on he developed the software and hardware for fully automating cameraadjustments. For this and earlier work he has been awarded 17 patents.
Ivy Karamitsos joined LPP in 2010 and is now Chief Information Officer. Initially she helped debug and rewrite code used in the analyses of the experimental data. This slowly led to addressing every aspect of LPP’s information processing, including communications, content and data management, and overall security. Ivy wears many different hats at LPP ensuring this noble project is carried out smoothly and effectively; This includes cleaning dirty electrodes, tightening the bolts on the DPF generator, fixing gas leaks, learning plasma physics on the go, and working on fun stuff like educational and promotional videos, while defending against the occasional pharma web attack. She studied mathematics and classical music in the former Yugoslavia before receiving a degree in Computer Science from Binghamton University, SUNY in 2003. Since then she has had ten years experience in information technology. Some of her music accompanies LPP's videos.
Dr. John Guillory is Professor Emeritus in the School of Computational Sciences at George Mason University. He has been active in plasma physics research for over thirty years, with extensive work in collective and quantum effects or electron and ion beams in plasmas. Dr. Guillory received a B.A. in Physics at Rice University (Phi Beta Kappa, honors) and a Ph.D. in Physics at University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. John Thompson designed, fabricated and assembled the 45 kV, 115 kJ Focus Fusion-1 dense plasma focus. He received his Ph.D. in experimental high energy physics from the University of California, San Diego. His doctoral work was performed during a multi‑year electron-positron colliding beam experiment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), determining the missing mass spectrum from two-photon reactions. At Maxwell Laboratories, his research shifted to applied plasma physics in inductive energy storage based pulsed power and radiation source development. Later, at Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation, Dr. Thompson continued to support the development of plasma radiation sources for terawatt Nuclear Effect Simulators, and investigated the application of diamond both as a high voltage switching element and a high power microwave RF pulse compression switch element. Presently at FAR‑TECH, he is applying the Large Scale Plasma (LSP) particle‑in‑cell code to the acceleration and propagation of plasma jets. In addition, he is both designing systems and conducting experiments related to the development of a tokamak disruption mitigation system using plasma jets formed using a 20 kV, 96 kJ capacitor bank.