Experimental plasma science group

Department of Materials Physics

The experimental plasma science group (EPS) is at the forefront of plasma physics in several areas. It pursues research into fields of plasma physics related to next-generation fusion reactors, propulsion systems, de-pollution, material science and environmental applications, combining both simulation and experimental approaches.

The EPS group promotes a strategy based on strong basic and applied research to encourage scientific and technological innovation for real world application, collaborating with a range of partners from both academia and industry.

The research focus is on the basic science and engineering that underpins next-generation technology, providing platforms that can be integrated into new products and processes. The EPS group has a sophisticated range of plasma systes (e.g. helicon-wave discharges, inductively coupled, hollow cathode discharges, atmospheric plasmas) and plasma diagnostics including lasers, fast intensified charged-coupled devices for optical emission measurements and electrical probes.

The group provides a number of interesting and challenging projects where students will be guaranteed a stimulating and scientifically challenging experience, and will have exposure to experimental and modelling works, such as plasma characterization, diagnostic design, simulations and theoretical analysis.

Experimentally verifying plasma configurations within the H-1 heliac using a range of sensing techniques in addition to simulating 'vacuum' configurations with the HELIAC and GOURDON supercomputer codes.

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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.

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Our coherence imaging systems are being used on frontline fusion devices around the world for measuring quantities as diverse as supersonic plasma flows, ion temperatures in the centre of fusion plasmas, plasma density and internal electric currents. These systems may well underpin any Australian diagnostic contribution to the ITER tokamak under construction in France.

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Updated:  23 January 2022/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster