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.
When plasmas are decoupled from their source of power, much can be learned about non-local effects of energy transport.
Plasma–liquid interactions are an important topic in the field of plasma science and technology. The interaction of non-equilibrium plasmas with a liquid have many important applications ranging from environmental remediation to material science and health...
This project aims to develop new plasma processing techniques which can be used to generate complex nanostructured surface morphologies on a range of mateirals. These materials have potential applications in a wide range of areas, including catalysis, high...
High power ion beams can be used to replace lasers as sources for evaporated coating material. Work with industry to discover the physics.
Low temperature plasmas are being exploited for new medical therapy techniques and in engineering applications in agriculture. This project explores the fundamental behaviour of how electrons penetrate a liquid surface, such as the skin of the body.
Please browse our full list of available physics research projects to find a student research project that interests you.