Attractive forces in dusty plasmas

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics


Dust grains (small solid or liquid macroparticles) occur in most plasmas (e.g. in fusion, industry and space). Several mechanisms which would give rise to an attractive force between grains have been proposed, but as yet there are no detailed experimental results on inter-grain forces. This project would involve: (1) develop a completely new theory of inter-grain attraction based on the classical Casimir effect, (2) study the way in which various attractive forces manifest themselves through an effective "surface tension" at the edge of a dust crystal/cloud, (3) use this work to suggest experiments on "voids" in dusty plasma crystals (as observed on the International Space Station). Such experiments could resolve the nature of the inter-grain force through surface tension effects. This is an important piece of basic plasma physics which would have significant impact on our understanding of many dusty plasmas. As mentioned above, such plasmas occur in fusion (EPSRC strategic theme: Energy) and industry (EPSRC strategic theme: Manufacturing the Future). The relevance of this work to space plasmas means it fits well in the newly created Space, Plasma and Climate Section and the Imperial Space Lab.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509486/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1994020 Studentship EP/N509486/1 01/10/2017 31/07/2021 Lloyd JAMES