Numerical and Experimental Study on Plasma and Electromagnetic Wave Interaction in a Weakly Ionized Flow

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment


The project is proposing state-of-art nonequilibrium plasma model coupled with computational electromagnetic methods and an innovative blackout experiment configuration using non-thermal plasma source which can overcome the limitation of current ground-based experimental facilities. This project will contribute to developing a disruptive blackout mitigation technology through a high-fidelity physical model for strong thermochemical nonequilibrium flow and an innovative ground-based blackout experimental method. Compared to previous radio blackout studies which are investigated a radio blackout under the point of non-equilibrium aerothermodynamics, the project will consider the comprehensive electromagnetic model of electrons including the effects of electron density fluctuation. Although the aerothermodynamic of a vehicle is the primary mechanism to create a plasma layer around the vehicle, it has a limited role in describing the mechanism of radio wave attenuation. Considering electromagnetism in electron rich conditions will help to investigate the detailed mechanism of radio blackout and the effectiveness of blackout mitigation schemes particularly using a magnetic field and metallic particles. The simplified signal attenuation model used in the previous studies cannot be employed to accurately predict signal attenuation under magnetised dusty plasma conditions because it is based on the assumptions that the plasma is non-magnetised, non-collisional, dust-free, and relatively thick in the direction of wave propagation.
This project takes a multidisciplinary approach involving plasma physics and computational electromagnetics to study a re-entry radio blackout which can bring experts in different disciplines and create new collaborative research link to overcome the scientific barriers between disciplines such as laser fusion and space plasmas. Therefore, the outcome of this project will enhance the technological competitiveness of the UK space sector, and create the momentum and foundation toward the commercialization of space, which will deliver tremendous economic and security benefits to the UK.


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Jakob H (2020) Generation of non-thermal plasmas over large and complex surfaces in Plasma Research Express

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509747/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1939331 Studentship EP/N509747/1 25/09/2017 30/09/2020 Henrike Jakob