The Magnetorotational Instability Experiment

    The Magnetorotational Instability (MRI) Experiment is a small laboratory experiment located at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), in collaboration with Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University. The goal of MRI Experiment is to investigate physics of MRI in liquid gallium. Click to learn more about the physics of MRI and to find out our publications and results.

    The experimental apparatus has been constructed, and here is a movie: "First spin" movie (11/10/04). Subsequently, high-speed water experiments have been carried out, and here is a movie: water experiment using Laser Doppler Velocimetry (10/20/05).

    Our hydrodynamic results have been published in "Nature": "Hydrodynamic turbulence cannot transport angular momentum effectively in astrophysical disks", Nature 444, 343 (2006). (see paper from Nature website or its reprint, introduction by S. Balbus, news story at "" or "life, and the universe").

    We have discovered a "Shercliff Layer Instability" when a sufficiently strong magnetic field is imposed on otherwise stable flows. The results have been published as a Physical Review Letter and here is a movie of the observed instability at the mid plane measured by Ultrasonic Doppler Velocimetry.

    We have published an introductory review article in "Physics Today": "Angular momentum transport in astrophysics and in the lab", Physics Today 66, 27 (2013). Here is the paper in the pdf format.

    We have upgraded the apparatus by using electrically conducting axial boundaries to increase the saturation level of the MRI, in order to unambiguously detect the standard form of MRI in any real systems for the first time.

    The MRI Experiment is currently jointly supported by NSF, NASA, and DoE.



Last Revised on 12/17/16
by Hantao Ji