PERL conducts experimental research on plasmas and combustion. We also have access to the facilities at the Propulsion Research Center (PRC).

Vacuum Chambers

PERL has three vacuum chambers used for low pressure experiments. The cube chamber is 8x8x6 inches and is used for small basic plasma experiments. The chamber pressure is controlled with a mechanical pump, needle valve, and mass flow controller. The chamber is typically used for near atmospheric plasma research in various gas mixtures.

 Cube chamber


The small chamber is 2 ft long and 1 ft in diameter. Various feedthrough ports and windows allow instrument and visual access. The chamber is pumped by a directly matted turbomolecular pump with an air pumping speed of 3200 L/s and a base pressure of 1 x 10-6 Torr for a clean and empty chamber.

 vacuum chamber


The medium diffusion chamber is 3 ft long and has two section 2ft and 3 ft in diameter. The chamber is evaculated with a oil diffusion pump. 



The PRC blue chamber is 13 ft long by 6 ft in diameter. It is used primarily for high-altitude pressure simulation. More details can be found here.

prc blue vacuum chamber

Power Sources

We have a range of power sources from DC to RF. The main sources used include:

  • High voltage pulsed DC. 0-10 kV, 200 ns min pulse width, 0-10 kHz rep rate.
  • Low voltage pulsed DC. 0-1.5 kV, 60 ns min pulse width, 0-240 kHz rep rate.
  • RF generator. 14 MHz, 100 W base 2 kW with amplifier, T-type manual matching network.
  • Microwave generator. 800-1000 MHz, 10 W amplified power.
  • Various DC power supplies.


We have the capability to construct and test combustion rigs of various sizes and pressure. Experiments have used simple Bunsen burners, Rijke tubes, multi-element burners, pentad rocket injectors, linear detonation tube, and rotating detonation engine.



PERL employs a range of commercial and lab built diagnostics and tools to study combustion and plasmas phenomenon.

TSI TDL+ dye laser system

The dye laser system is employed to conduct laser induced florescence (LIF) measurements of combustion and plasma processes. Properties such as species concentration and temperature can be readily measured with LIF. The system is pumped with a Brilliant B Nd:YAG pulsed laser.

dye laser

Princeton Instruments SP2500 Spectrometer/Monochromator

The SP2500 is an advanced spectrometer/monochromator system that is used to conduct optical emission spectroscopy of flames and plasmas. The instrument can be used either as a wide spectrum spectrometer or tight band monochromator depending on the set up. Currently both a Princeton Instruments PI-MAX 4 spectroscopy camera and a Hamamatsu PMT are connected.

Fast Gate Cameras

Two fast gate time cameras are used for synchronized time-resolved imaging and spectroscopy. An Andor iStar 334T ICCD camera (1024 x 1024) with 200-800 nm spectral range is used for direct imaging with or without a spectral filter. A Princeton Instruments PI-MAX 4 ICCD camera (1024 x 256) with 200-1000 nm spectral range is used for spectroscopy with the SP2500 spectrometer. Both cameras have minimum gate widths of 3 ns and frames rates of 10 Hz.

Langmuir Probes

Langmuir probes, also known as electrostatic probes, are a common plasma diagnostic tool used to measure plasma potential. electron temperature, electron number density, ion number density, and the electron energy distribution function. The probe are build in-house to suit the experiment. Single to triple filament probes are used in both vacuum and atmospheric pressures. RF compensated probes are also available.