Magnetic Field Mysteries in Low-Temperature Plasmas
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
Plasmas, or ionized gases, are key to many modern applications and are used, for example, in the production of thin films, space propulsion, wound sterilization in medicine, and environmental depollution. Fusion concepts, studied for the production of environmentally-friendly energy, rely on the generation and manipulation of plasmas. To fully exploit the potential of these ionized gases, we must first solve fundamental, long-standing questions regarding their features. One question concerns magnetic field fluctuations, naturally produced by the flow of the constituent charged particles in plasmas. What effects do these fluctuations have on the operation of devices? What is their relative importance in the presence of other kinds of variations, such as density fluctuations? Answering these questions could lead to new insights into how to model complex particle behavior in a range of plasmas in fusion, propulsion, and astrophysics. This collaboration seeks to provide a new experimental framework to tackle such questions. The proposed research will contribute to the development of a new, non-invasive diagnostic for the measurement of magnetic field fluctuations in low-temperature laboratory plasmas. This project will involve exchanges between researchers from CNRS Orléans in France and Stanford University, focusing on diagnostic development and fundamental physics.