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Events on Monday, October 25th, 2021

Plasma Physics (Physics/ECE/NE 922) Seminar
Using magnetic fields and microgravity to explore the physics of dusty plasmas
Time: 12:00 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin
Speaker: Ed Thomas, Jr. (Auburn)
Abstract: Over the last three decades, plasma scientists have learned how to control a new type of plasma
system known as a “complex” or “dusty” plasma. These are four-component plasma systems that
consist of electrons, ions, neutral atoms, and charged, solid, nanometer- to micrometer-sized
particles. The presence of these microparticles allow us to “tune” the plasma to have solid-like,
fluid-like, or gas-like properties. This means that dusty plasmas are not just a fourth state of matter
– they can take on the properties of all four states of matter.

From star-forming regions to planetary rings to fusion experiments, charged microparticles can be
found in many naturally occurring and man-made plasma systems. Therefore, understanding the
physics of dusty plasmas can provide new insights into a broad range of astrophysical and
technological problems. This presentation introduces the physical properties of dusty plasmas –
focusing on how the small charge-to-mass ratio of the charged microparticles gives rise to many
of the characteristics of the system. In particular, dusty plasmas can be used to study a variety of
processes in non-equilibrium or dissipative systems such as self-organization and energy cascade
as well as a variety of transport and instability mechanisms. This presentation will discuss results
from our studies of dusty plasmas in high (B ≥ 1 T) magnetic fields using the Magnetized Dusty
Plasma Experiment (MDPX) device at Auburn University and in microgravity experiments using
the Plasmakristall-4 (PK-4) laboratory on the International Space Station.
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