Plasma applications and technology

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 plasma applications and technology. Below are some examples of student physics research projects available in our school.

Total recall – memory effects in negative ion sources

This project investigates contamination effects in negative ion sources used for accelerator mass spectrometry particularly relevant for the measurement of ultra-trace amounts of the long-lived radionuclides Chlorine-36 and Iodine-129 in environmental samples.

Dr Stefan Pavetich, Emeritus Professor Keith Fifield

High pressure non-equilibrium plasma discharges in chemically reactive systems

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.

A/Prof Cormac Corr

Please browse our full list of available physics research projects to find a student research project that interests you.