The laboratory dates back to the first years after the University was opened in 1972, and was headed by Prof. Jan Trulsen up to the beginning of the 90’s. The first main device was a double plasma (DP) machine, and the majority of the experimental work was done in the fields of wave propagation and ion acoustic turbulence. For more details, see the list of publications from this period.
The simple magnetized torus Blaamann was designed and constructed during the late 80’s and early 90’s, by funding from the Norwegian Research Counciland the University of Tromsø. From 1990, it became the main device of the plasma laboratory. Under the leadership of Prof Kristoffer Rypdal, theoretical, numerical and experimental work has been focused on confinement, turbulence and plasma transport as well as probe development in magnetized plasmas.
March 8, 2006, was the last day of operation of the Blaamann device in Tromsø. In April it was mounted on wheels and shipped to West Virginia University in Morgantown, USA. A list of publications from this project can be viewed here.
An electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) device, Menja, was designed and constructed as part of a Cand. Scient. project, aimed at plasma physics for industrial applications. It became operational in 1998. Later, a Ph.D project with emphasize on RF modification and ion energy distributions in ECR plasmas, was carried out on Menja. The device is still operated, and a list of publications up to now can be viewed here.
The preparations of the construction of a new device, Njord**, started in 2005, following a 1.4 M NOK funding from the University of Tromsø. After the removal of Blaamann, the construction continued in the laboratory, which was now named Aurolab, to underscore its closer connection to space research. Njord was operated for the first time October 3, 2006. Pictures from its construction can be seen here, and the first project involving experiments on the device is funded by the Norwegian Research Council since 2007.
For some time, the laboratory has been hosting a restored terella experiment, originally built by Kristian Birkeland in 1912. In the mid-90’s, the terella was restored and made operational by Terje Brundtland, former engineer at the laboratory. For some years it was operated occationally for visitors and film teams. Several movies featuring the aurora and its physics have also features the Birkeland terella. Lately, it could no longer be operated due to the old circuitry. A small drawing of the device can be found on the Norwegian 200 kr. bill. The device was on long-term loan from the Technical Museum In Oslo, which demanded it to be returned March 2008, so that it can no longer be seen in Tromsø.
During late fall and winter 2014/15 the lab, with the Njord and Menja devices, has been moved to the new Technology building at the Breivika campus. Here, the SSC device has also found its home after being moved from NDRE to temporary storage on the campus for some time.
**) According to Norrøn mythology, Njord was the god of winds, and the ruler of the sea and the fire.