Plasma Physics

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.

Supports research in fundamental plasma physics including study of magnetized plasmas, high-energy-density plasmas, low temperature plasmas, strongly coupled plasmas, non-neutral plasmas, and intense field-matter interaction in plasmas.


Proposals in the area of plasma physics submitted to the Division of Physics that are not governed by another solicitation (such as CAREER), should be submitted to the Division-wide solicitation: Division of Physics: Investigator-Initiated Research Projects.

The Plasma Physics program participates in multiple NSF meta-programs such as the ECosytem for Leading Innovation in Plasma Science and Engineering (ECLIPSE), Windows on the Universe: The Era of Multi-Messenger Astrophysics (WoU-MMA), and Computational and Data-enabled Science and Engineering (CDS&E).  Topically appropriate proposals may also be submitted to the Plasma Physics program in response to NSF Dear Colleague Letters such as Critical Aspects of Sustainability (CAS): Innovative Solutions to Climate Change and Advancing Discovery with AI-Powered Tools (ADAPT) in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

When permitted under an MOU between NSF and another funding agency or private foundation, NSF may share information from proposals submitted to this solicitation for consideration of joint funding, and may invite employees of such organizations to attend merit review panels as observers.  MOUs of relevance to the Plasma Physics program presently exist with the Department of Energy/Office of Science, National Nuclear Security Administration, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and the Czech Science Foundation.


Plasma Physics is a study of matter and physical systems whose intrinsic properties are governed by collective interactions of large ensembles of free charged particles. 99.9% of the visible Universe is thought to consist of plasmas. The underlying physics of the collective behavior in plasmas has applications to space physics and astrophysics, materials science, applied mathematics, fusion science, accelerator science, and many branches of engineering.

The Plasma Physics program supports research that can be categorized by several broad, sometimes overlapping, sub-areas of the discipline, including: magnetized plasmas in the laboratory, space, and astrophysical environments; high energy density plasmas; low temperature plasmas; dusty, ultra-cold, and otherwise strongly coupled plasmas; non-neutral plasmas; and intense field-matter interaction in plasmas.  The focus of the Plasma Physics program is to generate an understanding of the fundamental principles governing the physical behavior of a plasma via collective interactions of large ensembles of free charged particles, as well as to improve the basic understanding of the plasma state as needed for other areas of science and engineering.

Principal Investigators (PIs) are encouraged to consider including specific efforts to increase diversity of the plasma physics community and broaden participation of under-represented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) as Broader Impacts of proposed work.  Development of new undergraduate and graduate plasma physics curricula, or curricula enhancement to include plasma physics topics in other courses, at institutions lacking such coursework is similarly encouraged.

NSF recognizes that some research projects within this Program may require more than three years to realize demonstrable research outcomes. For such projects, PIs are encouraged to consult the above Program Director to discuss the possibility of submitting a proposal of 4- or 5-year duration.

Some Plasma Physics-related activities are supported primarily by other NSF Programs. Proposals focused on the physical properties of individual or a small number of atoms or molecules, or optical physics, should be directed to the Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics Program within the Division of Physics.  Proposals focused on understanding astrophysical systems should be directed to the Division of Astronomical Sciences.  Proposals focused on understanding the Geospace environment or the Sun-Earth interactions should be directed to an appropriate program within the Geospace Section of the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences.  Proposals focused on development of new materials using plasmas should be directed to an appropriate program in the Division of Materials Research.  Proposals focused on plasma-assisted manufacturing should be directed to the Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation. Finally, proposals focused on use of plasmas for environmental and reaction engineering, environmental sustainability, combustion systems, or engineering of biomedical systems should be directed to an appropriate program within the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport systems.

Program contacts

Vyacheslav (Slava) Lukin
Program Director, Division of Physics (703) 292-7382 MPS/PHY
Jose Lopez (703) 292-2319 MPS/PHY

Awards made through this program

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