Plasma-surface interaction research
Plasmas play a critical role in modern technologies such as: micro-electronics; the fabrication of mobile phones, solar-cells and nano-chips; aerospace applications; high-efficiency lighting; biomedicine; and cancer treatment. Such technologies exploit the complex plasma-surface interactions in which the low-temperature plasma (< 100,000 K or 10 eV) is used to modify surface properties of the components.
Understanding the complex plasma-surface interaction involved in sputtering, etching, ion implantation and deposition is of great significance so that desired material properties can be tailored and optimised. Furthermore, a key challenge for fusion power is controlling transport at the boundary between the hot fusion core (>106 K) and the low temperature (103K) wall.
With the establishment of the ITER plasma fusion project we are at the threshold of realising burning fusion plasma, in which the plasma is dominantly self-heated by fusion reactions. Harnessing the burning plasma to produce a sustainable clean energy source requires understanding and controlling the complex interactions between the plasma edge and the wall.
A large amount of research activity in the physical sciences is underpinned by plasma technology. Nanoscience and nanotechnology, solar energy, material science and engineering and fusion are all areas where an understanding of plasma physics is critical.
The PSI research group is dedicated to investigating plasma-surface interaction science and boundary plasma physics in fusion and technological plasmas. The group consists of a state-of-the-art diagnostic suite with an aim to supplying new information on how to tailor plasma processes to specific engineering outcomes, and also provide real-time monitoring solutions required for fusion and technological applications. There is a close connection across a broad range of research areas, from fusion to materials processing for the micro-and nano-industry, and solar energy.
The PSI group hosts the Material Diagnostic Facility (MDF).