Samuel A. Cohen

Lecturer with the Rank of Professor
Director, Program in Plasma Science and Technology
Office Phone

B.S., Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1968

Ph.D., Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1973



Research Interests

  • The physics of field-reversed configuration plasmas, with emphasis on fusion issues, e.g. aneutronic fuels, confinement, heating, non-linear dynamics, and stability
  • Advanced plasma thrusters for propulsion of spacecraft to remote planets and beyond

Awards & Honors

  • Sigma Xi
  • RLE Fellow
  • Goodwin Medal for Distinguished Teaching, MIT
  • Fellow, American Physical Society
  • Best Mentor Award, Princeton University​, 2008​
  • Excellence in Physics Education Award, American Physical Society​, 2017​
  • Significant Impact Faculty Award, Princeton University​, 2018, 2019
  • Excellence in Technology Transfer Award, Federal Laboratory Consortium​, 2018
  • Thomas Edison Patent Award, Development Council of New Jersey, 2020


  • AST 558 Seminar in Plasma Physics
  • AST 562 Laboratory in Plasma Physics
Selected Publications
  • Chiu, G. S. & Cohen, S. A. Experimental Observations of Steep Temperature Steps in Dense Magnetized Plasmas. Phys. Rev. Lett. 76 , 1248-1251 (1996).
  • Cohen, S. A. et al . Formation of Collisionless High- β  Plasmas by Odd-Parity Rotating Magnetic Fields. Phys. Rev. Lett. 98 , 145002 (2007).
  • Cohen, S. A. & Milroy, R. D. Maintaining the closed magnetic-field-line topology of a field-reversed configuration with the addition of static transverse magnetic fields.Phys Plasmas 7, 2539-2545 (2000).
  • Cohen, S. A. et al. Ion acceleration in plasmas emerging from a helicon-heated magnetic-mirror device. Phys Plasmas 10, 2593-2598 (2003).
  • Cohen, S. A. & Glasser, A. H. Ion Heating in the Field-Reversed Configuration by Rotating Magnetic Fields near the Ion-Cyclotron Resonance. Phys. Rev. Lett. 85, 5114-5117 (2000). 
  • Goeckner, M. J., Bennett, T. K. & Cohen, S. A. A source of hyperthermal neutrals for materials processing. Appl. Phys. Lett. 71, 980-982 (1997). 
  • Landsman, A. S., Cohen, S. A. & Glasser, A. H. Onset and Saturation of Ion Heating by Odd-Parity Rotating Magnetic Fields in a Field-Reversed Configuration. Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 015002 (2006). 
  • Sefkow, A. B. & Cohen, S. A. Particle-in-cell modeling of magnetized argon plasma flow through small mechanical apertures. Phys Plasmas 16, 053501 (2009). 
  • M. Paluszek, G. Pajer, Y. Razin, S.A. Cohen, J. Slonaker, M. Walsh, Kevin Griffin, and R. Feder, “Direct Fusion Drive for a Human Mars Orbital Mission,” Proc. IAC, Toronto, (2014).
  • Y. S. Razin, G. Pajer, M. Breton, E. Ham, J. Mueller, M. Paluszek, A. H. Glasser, S. A. Cohen, “A Direct Fusion Drive for Rocket Propulsion,” Acta Astronautica 105, (2014) 145.
  • S. Thomas, M. Paluszek, S.A. Cohen, “Direct Fusion Drive: Game-changing power and propulsion in space,” Proc. 20th Conference on Advanced Space Propulsion, Glenn Research Center (2014).
  • G. Wurden et al., “A new vision for fusion energy research: fusion rocket engines for planetary defense,” J. Fus. Energy 35, 123 (2015).
  • S.A. Cohen, et al., “Reducing neutron emission from small fusion rocket engines,” Proc. 66th International Astronautical Congress (Jerusalem, Il, Oct 2015) IAC-15,C4.7-C3.5,9,x28852.
  • C. Swanson, P. Jandovitz, and S.A. Cohen, “Using Poisson-regularized inversion of Bremsstrahlung emission to extract full electron energy distributions from X-ray pulse-height detector data,” AIP Advances 8, 025222 (2018).
  • P. Jandovitz, C. Swanson, J. Matteucci, R. Oliver, J. Pearcy, and S.A. Cohen, “Demonstration of fast-electron populations in a low-pressure, low-power magnetized RF plasma source, Phys. Plasmas (Lett.) 25, 030702 (2018).
  • E. Evans, S.A. Cohen, D. and Welch, “Particle-in-cell studies of fast-ion slowing-down rates in cool tenuous magnetized plasmas,” Phys. Plasmas 25, 042105 (2018).
  • S.A. Cohen, C. Swanson, N. McGrievy, A. Raja, E. Evans, P. Jandovitz, et al., “Direct fusion drive for interstellar exploration,” J. Brit. Interplan. Soc. 72, 38 (2019).
  • C. Swanson and S.A. Cohen, “Spontaneous multi-keV electron generation from Fermi acceleration and magnetic moment non-adiabaticity” Phys. Plasma 26,  060701 (2019).