Dynamics of Self-Assembling Dust Structures

Multi-chain dusty plasma in polarity-switched DC discharge
Multi-chain dusty plasma in polarity-switched DC discharge. (Credit: PK-4-ISS lab.)
Ion-dust streaming instability observed in DC neon discharge
Ion-dust streaming instability observed in DC neon discharge. (Credit: PK-4-ISS lab.)

Laboratory dusty plasmas exhibit rich many-body dynamics characterized by dust particle structure formation, system phase transitions, and dust / plasma waves and instabilities. CASPER scientists, in collaboration with colleagues from Auburn, Wittenberg and Caltech, are currently investigating how the dynamics of strongly coupled dusty plasma liquids are affected by energy transport and dissipation through the system. The CASPER team is interested in the onset of self-excited or externally driven waves in a DC discharge plasma with polarity-switched electric field, both in gravity and microgravity conditions. In the polarity-switched DC electric field, the dusty plasma clouds are observed to form multi-chain clouds, resembling the structure of electrorheological fluids, which makes them ideal for the investigation of smart materials.

In the Plasma Kristall-4 (PK-4) project located on the International Space Station, data received from the PK-4 experiment is compared against results produced using the PK-4 BU analog reference experiment resident in the HIDPL. Theoretical predictions and experimental results are supported by various numerical codes including: 1) a two-dimensional Particle-in-Cell with Monte Carlo Collisional (2D PIC/MCC) simulation of the PK-4 DC discharge and 2) an N-body kinetics code modeling Dynamic Reactions of Ions And Dust (DRIAD).

Faculty & Staff: Truell Hyde, Lorin Matthews, Eva Kostadinova, Mike Cook, Jorge Carmona Reyes, Kenneth Ulibarri

Collaborators: Peter Hartmann (Hungarian National Academy of Sciences), Vladimir Nosenko (German Aerospace Centre DLR), Oleg Petrov (Russian Academy of Science), Marlene Rosenberg (UCSD), Edward Thomas (Auburn University), Jeremiah Williams (Wittenberg University), & Paul Bellan (Caltech)

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