Experimental Facilities

The CASPER lab (the Hypervelocity Impacts & Dusty Plasmas Lab - HIDPL) in which the proposed experiments will be conducted is a 9000 square foot lab constructed in 2012 specifically for complex plasmas / nanofabrication research and located within the 330,000 square foot Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC).

Primary Plasma Systems

CASPER Experimental Facilities - Primary Plasma Systems
CASPER Experimental Facilities - Primary Plasma Systems

Researchers within the HIDPL have access to two GEC RF Reference Cells and a much larger, custom RF Complex Plasma Cell. Each of the cells is equipped with a comprehensive diagnostics package (diode laser illumination across all planes, high-speed CCD imaging and complete electronics monitoring) and may be operated either manually or in an automated fashion through NI:LabView connection.

Kepco External DC Power SupplyAll three cells can be operated across a large range of operating pressures and powers as required by the user.  Each has a movable upper electrode (allowing inter-electrode spacing to be set by the user) and the ability to either establish or pulse the DC bias on the lower electrode employing a Kepco external DC power supply. Two of these cells also offers the ability to cool and heat (+ 40 C) the lower electrode in order to provide a thermophoretic force to the plasma environment.

Inductive Plasma Generator (IPG) CASPER researchers also have access to the Inductive Plasma Generator (IPG) built around a proprietary design from their partners at the University of Stuttgart. The PIG allows researchers access to plasmas created from a variety of dust sizes and gasses and mixtures of gasses at powers up to 15 KW.


Finally, CASPER researchers have access to the Plasma-Kristall4 BU device built as an analog to the Plasma-Kristall 4 instrument on the International Space Station. Since 2014, the dusty plasma experiment ’Plasmakristall- 4’ (PK-4) has been on board the International Space Station (ISS) and employed for various experimental campaigns. CASPER personnel utilize this device as part of a research grant funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. As part of these grants, the CASPER experimental group developed the PK-4 BU analog device, which offers the advantage of preliminary campaign planning and testing under as close to identical circumstances as possible before proposing new campaigns and final ground testing for these campaigns using the PK-4 (ISS) device. The design of the PK-4BU is based on the facility used on the International Space Station and its associated ground facilities, therefore the hardware used has been chosen to be as similar as possible to the hardware used within those. However, it also offers the ability to add or subtract hardware depending on experimental needs. This combination makes the PK-4 BU analog useful leading to collaborations with groups from around the world.

Primary Dust Particle Perturbation Systems

Zyvex Nanomanipulator (S100)Researchers using either GEC RF Reference cell may access the Zyvex Nanomanipulator (S100) consisting of a control cabinet housing the PC and electronics, a joystick, and Windows based software to control the system.

The S100 is specifically designed for research and development labs in universities, national facilities, and industry. The system allows nanoscale manipulation and is flexible enough to work with a wide range of electrical, mechanical, and other test equipment through the patch panel on its control cabinet.

Zyvex Nanomanipulator ProbesThe S100 has a coarse mode which provides controlled cartesian motion over large distances (12 mm of travel with 100 nm resolution) and a fine mode for extremely smooth and precise motion (100 microns of travel with 5 nm resolution). Zyvex NanoEffector® Probes have a tip radius of 50 nm or better and a smooth taper to tip that allows multiple probes within a small area. Each positioner contains 5 I/O channels, for a total of 20 independent electrical connections inside the plasma chamber. This provides researchers within CASPER the ability to perturb the dusty plasma at either a particle or collective level.

Coherent VERDI G Series - Laser Coherent (Chameleon) - Laser

Researchers within the HIDPL also have access to a large laser suite which includes a 5 W and an 8 W Coherent VERDI G Series solid state, frequency doubled Nd:YVO4 laser and a femtosecond Coherent (Chameleon) Ti:Sapphire laser system. This provides CASPER researchers the ability to manipulate the dusty plasma system at the particle level.

Primary Dust Particle Imaging Systems

Researchers within CASPER have access to a variety of imaging systems, allowing both nominal (30 to 240 fps) and high speed (up to 100,000 fps) imaging of the dusty plasma system. High-speed capability is provided by two high-speed digital video cameras, the (Photron 1024 PCI), a PC based mega pixel (@1,000 fps) providing 1024 by 1024 pixel resolution at frame rates up to 3000 fps. Frame rates up to 100,000 fps are also available at reduced pixel resolution.

Infinity K2 long-distance, microscope lens Imaging is provided by two,Infinity K2 long-distance, microscope lens systems providing an outstanding operating range as well as magnification, resolution and clarity across a diffraction-limited field of view.

In-Lab Advanced Manufacturing Systems

Haas_TL-2_C&C_Lathe_large Fryer 5-Axis CNC Machining Center

The PIs’ lab is equipped with advanced machining capability through a HAAS CNC lathe, a Fryer 5-Axis CNC Machining Center and two Summit vertical mills. In addition, CASPER researchers have access to a wood shop within the lab as well and full technical support in high-vacuum, electronics and advanced manufacturing design, manufacture and operation.

Technical Support

summit_mill CASPER researchers have access to full time technical support staff providing assistance across a host of areas including high-vacuum, electronics and advanced manufacturing design, manufacture and operation. A full time electronics shop also makes available soldering of through hole and surface mount discrete and integrated semiconductor packages, rf shielded enclosures, high-frequency circuitry and electro-optical circuit design and integration.


The CASPER members who work primarily on the experimental side of CASPER include

Dr. Truell W, Hyde, Professor of Physics & Director, CASPER Mr. Jorge Carmona-Reyes, Assistant Director of Education and Outreach Mr. Mike Cook, Senior Research Technician Mr. Kenneth Ulibarri, Senior Research Technician Dr. Peter Hartmann, Assistant Director of Research, CASPER Wigner Research Institute for Physics, Hungarian National Academy of Sciences Dr. Vladimir Nosenko, Assistant Director of Research, CASPER German Aerospace Centre DLR, Ukraine National Academy of Science Dr. Oleg Petrov, Assistant Director of Research, CASPER Deputy Director, Joint Institute for High Temperatures, Russian Academy of Science

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