Plasma research at UAH is concentrated in three places: the Center of Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR), the Space Sciences Department, and the MAE Department. The first two are focused on space plasmas, the third one conducts studies of laboratory plasmas. The key activities in the field of space plasmas include studies of our solar system and space weather. The experimental research is conducted at the Plasma and Electrodynamics Research Lab (PERL), which is located in the Propulsion Research Center (PRC). The research at PERL focuses on propulsion, combustion, materials, and bio-medical.

Over the last decade, UAH has been a part of the DOE Plasma Science Center for predictive control of plasma kinetics is bounded systems. Within the Center activities, multi-scale kinetic-fluid models of low-temperature weakly-ionized plasmas have been developed and applied to studies of streamer dynamics in high-pressure discharges and other systems. Theory and simulation of electron kinetics in DC and RF discharges have been advanced to study stratification of glow discharges in noble gases and dynamics of low-pressure inductively coupled plasmas. These activities have formed solid foundation for the research currently being conducted within the EPSCoR project.

For the CPU2AL research project, the UAH group is focusing its efforts in three main areas: theory and simulations of low-temperature plasmas, experimental and computational studies of plasma self-organization, and plasma interactions with liquids and biomatter. The PERL group is focusing its efforts in three main areas: atmospheric-pressure plasma (APP) treatment of soft and bio-materials, striations in glow discharges, and diagnostics.

Theory and Simulations of Low-Temperature Plasmas

Expertise in the development of theoretical models and computational tools for space plasmas and gas discharges, the study of electron kinetics in low-temperature plasmas – from glow discharges to solar wind.  We have significant expertise in the development of kinetic and fluid solvers for particle transport over a wide range of conditions, from collisionless magnetized plasmas to atmospheric-pressure cold plasma discharges in air.  We seek to help groups with selecting appropriate models for particular plasma conditions, further developing hybrid multi-scale approach based on hierarchy of kinetic and fluid models with appropriate closures and model selection criteria, and integration of hybrid models into advanced computational tools for plasma simulations.  We have a particular interest in using adaptive kinetic-fluid models for different types of plasmas.

Plasma dynamics and self-organization

Expertise includes the theory of waves in plasmas, wave-particle interactions, plasma turbulence, formation discontinuities and shock waves in collisionless and collisional plasmas. We also have experience in application of the advanced computational tools to space and laboratory plasmas and conduct studies of gas breakdown and plasma self-organization in laboratory (striations, electrode spots, streamers, sparks, and arcs). We are particularly interested in understanding plasma in gases and liquids, physics and chemistry at gas-liquid interfaces, and pulsed-power discharges with runaway electrons.  We seek to work with the experimental groups to advance our models and validate our computational tools versus experiments. 

Experimental studies of plasma discharges

The PERL group has experimental facilities for studies of plasma stratification in atomic and molecular gases under low pressure conditions and generation of cold plasma jets in atmospheric air. Expertise in using optical emission spectroscopy and electric probes. We conduct experimental studies of cold plasma interactions with sensitive plants to understand electrical signaling of plants. We also have strong interests in expanding our studies to plasma interactions with liquids and bio-matter. We can work with other groups to advance plasma technologies for biomedical, agriculture and food processing applications and offer our expertise and facilities for these studies.

Atmospheric-pressure plasmas

The PERL group has been building, testing, and studying the properties and applications of APPs since 2012. We have expertise in the design, construction, and operation of different types of APPs including jet, DBDs, sheets, using DC, AC, or RF power. We seek to develop and characterize APP sources for various terrestrial applications.

Striations in glow discharges

Within EPSCoR project, we built a “classical” glow discharge tube to generate and study plasma striations in noble and molecular gases in DC and RF plasmas. The tube has multiple diagnostic ports for electrical probes. We seek to use optical and probe diagnostics to understand the nature of standing and moving striations under different conditions.


We use and develop optical and probe diagnostic techniques for the measurement of plasma properties in low-pressure and atmospheric-pressure plasmas. Some methods include optical emission spectroscopy, laser-induced fluorescence, high-speed imaging, and Langmuir probes.



Dr. Gary Zank

EPSCoR PI, UAH Team Lead                  


Dr. Vladimir Kolobov

Principal Research Scientist, Adjunct Professor 


Dr. Gabe Xu

Associate Professor