Complex Plasma Experiments on the International Space Station: Present Status and Future Perspectives

DateSeptember 26, 2018Time4:00 - 5:00 pm
LocationBaylor Sciences Building E.125

2018 Fall Physics Colloquium Series
Eva Kostadinova, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor,
CASPER, Baylor University

Complex Plasma Experiments on the International Space Station: Present Status and Future PerspectivesComplex (dusty) plasmas are systems where micron-sized particles (often referred to as dust) are immersed in weakly ionized plasma gas. Upon interaction with the plasma, the dust grains become highly charged and are subject to both plasma drag forces and collective plasma interactions. In microgravity, the particles spread freely in space and form a variety of structures, which often behave as macroscopic analogues of atomic liquids and crystals. The advantage of such analogues is that the micron-sized grains in complex plasmas can be observed individually at the kinetic level. This provides researchers with an innovative experimental technique with applications in astrophysics, condensed matter physics, plasma technology, and fusion research.

In February 2001, the plasma crystal experiment PKE Nefedov became the first natural science experiment installed on board of the International Space Station (ISS). This German-Russian project was designed to investigate fundamental physical interactions with the help of dust-plasma systems under microgravity. Since then, the complex plasma experiments have been among the most successful research projects on the ISS. The current complex plasma lab installed on the ISS, Plasma Kristall-4 (PK-4), is the first project of this kind with direct involvement of US research groups. Under the leadership of Dr. Truell Hyde and Dr. Lorin Matthews, the complex plasma group at Baylor is one of the only six groups in the country rewarded involvement with this project. This talk provides an overview of the major achievements of the dusty plasma experiments on the ISS and the future of complex plasma research in microgravity.

Reception at 3:40 p.m. in BSB D.311
For more information contact: Dr. Anzhong Wang 254-710-2276

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