Plasmas are ionized gases - a fourth state of matter where the electrons are dissociated from the atomic nuclei. Plasmas can be found in a broad range of natural and man-made environments. Naturally occurring plasmas include astrophysical phenomena such as the solar wind and the aurora. Man-made plasmas are used in fusion energy research, for manufacturing, and for lighting.
Plasma physics research at Auburn includes both experimental and theoretical work on fusion, laboratory, and space plasmas.
Fusion is a process that combines the atomic nuclei of light elements, like the isotopes of hydrogen called deuterium and tritium, to form heavier elements. It is the same process by which the sun creates energy. In the process of fusing these elements, energy is released which can be captured and used to generate heat and eventually electricity. Auburn faculty and students are actively engaged in experimental, theoretical and computational fusion energy research.
Follow this link to the Fusion Research Group homepage.
Faculty: Hanson, Hartwell, Knowlton, Maurer
Laboratory plasma physics research focuses on experimental research of fundamental process that occur in plasma - such as particle and energy transport, plasma instabilities, thermodynamics of plasmas, microgravity studies, and the physics of highly magnetized plasmas. These studies also include the development of new plasma sources and new in-situ and optical diagnostic tools.
Follow this link to the Plasma Sciences Laboratory homepage.
Faculty: Konopka, Thomas