Plasma is the fourth state of matter and one with a large range of potential applications. Today, plasma is used to manufacture integrated circuits for electronics, spacecraft propulsion, outdoor lighting, fusion power, television, and many more applications. In the PRC, our research is focused on three areas: spacecraft electric propulsion, plasma-assisted ignition and combustion, and small-scale microplasmas.

In spacecraft electric propulsion, we are developing new plasma sources and fabrication techniques to produce low-cost miniature thrusters for small satellites. In plasma-assisted combustion, we are studying the interactions between electromagnetic fields, plasma species, combustion species, and flame fluid mechanics to understand the physics and develop technologies for better car and airplane engines. For example, controlled ignition timing in diesel engines, and higher temperature and lower emissions in gas turbines. In microplasmas, we are investigating the behavior of sub-millimeter scale plasmas and their interactions with light, biomatter, and soft materials. Applications include roll-to-roll plasma material processing, plasma wound healing, water purification, and plasma sterilization.

Dr. Gabe Xu's faculty page
Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Gabe Xu

Assistant Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

For more information on plasmas & combustion at the Propulsion Research Center, please contact Dr. Xu.