Charles "Ned" Birdsall

Professor Charles "Ned" Birdsall received his B.S.E. and M.S.E. from the University of Michigan in 1946 and 1948 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1951. After graduation, Dr. Birdsall joined Hughes Aircraft Company. His work on microwave tubes, including resistive-wall, reactive-wall and rippled-wall amplifiers, as well as periodic structures (e.g., ring-bar helix) and large-C analysis for high power traveling-wave tubes, led to the first multikilowatt TWT at X-band. After 4 years at Hughes Aircraft, Dr. Birdsall joined General Electric Microwave Laboratory as leader of the electron physics group where he worked on electron guns, streams and traveling-wave tubes. The work at Hughes and General Electric led to the publication of 14 journal articles, 27 patents (most co-authored) and election to Fellow of IEEE.

With 8 years of experience in the industry, Dr. Birdsall joined the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley in 1959. An early result of his research at Berkeley was the discovery of virtual cathode oscillations using computer simulation, (with W.B. Bridges). His research interests soon moved to high temperature plasmas, with emphasis on understanding instabilities, heating and transport, through development and application of many-particle computer simulations.

Professor Birdsall has been consultant to industry and to Lawrence Livermore National Lab from 1960-1986. He was a Miller Professor in 1963-64, and spent leave at Osaka University, Japan in 1966, initiating cloud-in-cell (CIC) 2d, 3d many particle simulations (with T. Kamimura). He founded the Plasma Theory and Simulation Research Group (PTSG) in 1967. He was on leave at LLNL during the 1969-70 academic year. In 1972-74 he founded and chaired the campus-wide Energy and Resources Program (now ERG), with faculty, integrative courses at all levels, and interdisciplinary research. In 1977-78 and 1979-80 he chaired the College of Engineering Energy and Energy Resources Committee. In 1981-82 he began study of plasma-surface interactions while on leave, as Foreign Research Associate at IPP, Nagoya, Japan and then Visiting Chevron Professor of Energy at California Institute of Technology, with a guest visit to China. In 1984-86 he was the first area coordinator for EECS faculty in physical electronics and bioelectronics. A 1988 milestone was discovery of the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability at the boundary of a crossed-field plasma (with K. Theilhaber). In fall 1988 he was a Visiting Professor at Nagoya University, Japan. In spring of 1991 he was a Fulbright Lecturer/Researcher at University of Innsbruck, Austria. In the summers of 1985, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999 he taught simulation at ICTP, Trieste, Italy. In spring of 2002, he was JIFT Visiting Professor at National Institute for Plasma Science (NIFS), Toki, Japan. He was an IPA (visitor) at Air Force Research Lab, Albuquerque, in June 2002 and he was a Visiting Professor at Gunma University, Japan in during the fall of 2003.

Professor Birdsall retired in 1991 after 32 years of regular course teaching but continues to do research and gives many short courses and workshops around the world. His current focus is on bounded plasmas especially laboratory discharges, including collisions (Monte Carlo collisions, PIC-MCC codes), possible full fusion reactor, and microwave electron beam device simulations, all with visualizations.

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Last updated 10/03/05