The unique properties of plasma mean that it has a wide variety of technological applications. Research within the School focusses on thoroughly understanding the fundamental properties of plasmas then applying that knowledge to practical applications.
One example is a novel space thruster system based around a plasma accelerated in an electric double layer. The physics is similar to that which drives the Aurora and allows ions to be accelerated to very high speeds which in turn equates to a highly fuel efficient propulsion system for space travel.
Plasmas are also being used in connection with nanotechnology to create novel catalytic fuel cell electrodes that require only one fifth of the platinum of conventional electrodes. Such advances are likely to have a profound effect on "green" vehicles of the future.
Potential student research projects
You could be doing your own research into fusion and plasma confinement. Below are some examples of student physics research projects available in RSPE.
The goal of this research is to study high pressure non-equilibrium plasma discharges in chemically reactive systems with applications to space, waste treatment and material science.
High power ion beams can be used to replace lasers as sources for evaporated coating material. Work with industry to discover the physics.
When plasmas are decoupled from their source of power, much can be learned about non-local effects of energy transport.
We employ Particle in Cell simulations that are inexpensive true computer experiments to complement the use of costly industrial microchip plasma systems.
Please browse our full list of available physics research projects to find a student research project that interests you.