Facilities and Equipment Description

The plasma science research effort at Auburn University (AU) is based in the Physics Department in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM).  The Auburn University plasma physics program spans a broad range of research activities that include:  experimental and theoretical fusion energy research, comprehensive analysis of space plasmas from satellite measurements, three-dimensional modeling of plasmas in the magnetosphere, experimental measurements and computational model of atomic spectra from plasmas, laboratory simulations of space plasma phenomena, and laboratory and microgravity studies of complex (dusty) plasmas.


For the CPU2AL research project, the Auburn University plasma group is focusing its efforts in three main areas:  laboratory plasmas, diagnostics and toroidal plasmas, and space plasmas. 


Laboratory Plasmas  

Expertise in the development of magnetized and unmagnetized low-temperature plasma sources, the study of plasmas and dusty plasmas – particularly in strongly magnetized plasmas, nanoparticle fabrication in reactive plasmas, and laboratory simulations of the space environment.  We also have significant expertise in in-situ probe development and high-speed imaging of particle transport in plasmas.  We seek to help groups design and develop their own plasma sources and imaging tools.  We have a particular interest in studies related to nanoparticle and microparticle growth in plasma.  And we can provide access to AU plasma sources.

Diagnostics and Toroidal Plasmas

Expertise includes the development of spectroscopic diagnostics for the measurement of temperature, density, and metastable populations in low-temperature plasmas.  This group also uses a toroidal plasma device to produce low temperature, extended (10’s of meters) long plasma columns suited for studies of long-wavelength phenomena in astrophysical plasmas as well as scaled studies of ionosphere-magnetosphere coupling through active control of neutral gas density profiles.  We seek to work with theory groups to provide experimental validation of models. 

Space Plasmas

Expertise in the development of advanced simulation codes for three-dimensional modeling of the Earth’s magnetosphere.  This group also has extensive expertise in analyzing data from spacecraft to image magnetospheric phenomena.  We can work with other groups to explore coupling our studies to heliospheric models.  We also have strong interests in expanding our studies to other planetary magnetospheres as well as experimental validation of our computational studies.

Laboratory Plasma Group

magnetized dusty plasma experiment mdpxMagnetized Dusty Plasma Experiment (MDPX) – MDPX is a superconducting, multi-configuration, multi-user research instrument.  It is optimized for studying low-temperature plasmas and dusty plasmas at high magnetic fields – up to 4 Tesla.  MDPX has a 50 cm diameter, 19 cm tall central bore with both radial and axial access that can accommodate large vacuum chambers.  Experiments can be performed using the Auburn plasma sources or users may install their own vacuum chambers for use with the magnet system. 


Contact:  Prof. E. Thomas

Additional information:  http://psl.physics.auburn.edu



Auburn Linear Experiment for Instability Studies (ALEXIS) – The ALEXIS device is a 170 cm long, 10 cm diameter magnetized (up to 0.1 T) low-temperature plasma source.  ALEXIS has been used extensively for laboratory simulations of ionosphere and magnetosphere phenomena (e.g., ion cyclotron and lower hybrid waves) and has been used extensively for testing spectroscopic diagnostics.alexis




Contact:  Prof. E. Thomas

Additional information:  http://psl.physics.auburn.edu



Laboratory plasma sources – The Laboratory Plasma Group has at least five additional “tabletop” scale plasma chambers that use either dc or radio-frequency (13.56 MHz) sources for low-temperature plasma production.  Experimental setups range in size from 10 cm to 30 cm in length. au3






Contact:  Dr. S. Jaiswal / Prof. U. Konopka / Prof. E. Thomas


Other resources and expertise:

  1. High-speed video imaging (up to 300 fps)
  2. Particle image velocimetry (PIV)
  3. Particle tracking velocimetry (PTV)
  4. Single-, double-, triple-Langmuir probe development
  5. Emissive probe development
  6. General plasma source development (dc, rf)


Dr. Rao Mentreddy

Dr. Edward Thomas Jr.

Primary Investigator
Dr. Ernst Cebert

Dr. David Ennis


Dr. David Maurer

Dr. Venkateswara Sripathi

Dr. Emefa Monu

Dr. Leopold Nyochembeng

Dr. Stuart Loch

Dr. Rao Mentreddy

Dr. Uwe Konopka

Dr. Rao Mentreddy

Dr. Yu Lin