Applied Plasma Physics
Applied plasma physics is an extremely wide field, with applications ranging from high power plasma torches used for cutting and melting to production of structures on the nano-scale. It has been estimated that as much as 20% of the world’s GDP directly or indirectly involves plasma technology (semiconductors, plasma vapor deposition (PVD) and etching, solar cells, surface coatings and polymerization treatment etc). As an example the volume of PVD production is expected to reach $100 billion by 2009. Plasma medicine, plasma biology, and plasma environmental physics are other emerging subjects of rapidly growing interest and impact. The construction of ITER and the realization of fusion power requires that numerous technological problems be solved, including the development of suitable structural materials, and plasma diagnostic techniques.
Plasma diagnostics development is both part of applied plasma physics and an integrated part of all research in space and plasma physics. Measurement techniques that have been developed include photographic methods, spectroscopy, microwave probing, and numerous probe methods for electric and magnetic fields. Here are shown as two examples an array of electric probes developed for laboratory plasmas plasmas, and the SCALE electric probe system for spacecraft.
Projects of an applied nature where we are involved are:
- Development of surface coating techniques with high power magnetron sputtering.
- Diagnostics and modeling of the VASIMR plasma rocket.
- Cooperation with the Swedish Defense Research Agency on high power explosives driven current generators, and on high power microwave generators.