A remarkable form of complex ionized medium is plasmas seeded with solid particulates of nano to micrometer size. The particles become charged and through their screened electrostatic interaction they constitute a medium with particular material properties.
Complex ionized media are multi-phase systems, containing free charge carriers (electrons, ions, charged macro-particles). Such media are ubiquitous; examples include interstellar space, planetary rings, the Earth’s atmosphere, industrial and laboratory reactors.
Today there is active research and new developments in applications of this medium, such as control of dust in plasma processing, its role in environmental problems, plasma medicine, nano-fluidics and plasma biology. All these new interdisciplinary directions will benefit from the deeper understanding of the basic nano-scale physics which can be studied due to the fact that the dust component on one hand mimic the physics of solids and fluids. On the other hand it allows observations on the kinetic level thanks to the large temporal and spatial scales involved and introduces new effects, or enhances effects present in ordinary plasmas that are hard to measure in those plasmas.
The cross-disciplinary project being carried at KTH is aimed at investigating fundamental processes in complex (dusty) plasmas, and exploring their applications/implications for other areas of science. The physical properties and characteristics of complex plasmas are used for a new look at fundamental problems in the theory of complex systems, fluids and astrophysics and some particular applications to space and laboratory plasmas, including development of novel dust diagnostics.