Samuel A. Cohen

Lecturer with the Rank of Professor
Director, Program in Plasma Science and Technology
Email Address:

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
Publications List: 
  • 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).