The experimental capability of the York Plasma Institute is housed in a dedicated laboratory building, which was officially opened in October 2012. Once established, it is intended that the YPI Laboratories will become a national facility, open for use by other universities and industry.
The YPI Laboratories house:
Contains a magnetically confined linear plasma device with a plasma column 5cm in diameter, 1.4m long, axial magnetic field 0.2T densities in excess of 1019m-3 and temperatures up to 10eV. This lab will also be used for basic plasma studies and the development of instrumentation and plasma diagnostics for tokamaks, especially the UK's MAST tokamak (at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire).
Contains two Nd-YAG laser systems enabling pump-probe laser-plasma experiments up to intensities of 1015Wcm-2. There is an array of x-ray and optical diagnostics and pulsed electromagnets for the study of high density plasmas expanding into magnetic fields. Interest is in preparing targets and diagnostics for use in higher power, national laser facilities, for studies in lower irradiance laser-plasma experiments and for simulating conditions in some astrophysical plasmas.
This lab (housed in the main YPI research building) enables participation in tokamak experiments anywhere around the world, although so far it has only been used for experiments on the UK's MAST tokamak. It has a videoconference link to the on-site tokamak control room, as well as a suite of hardware and software tools to access and analyse the huge amount of data generated in a typical discharge.
This low-temperature plasma lab will develop new plasma technologies for industrial applications ranging from nano-fabrication in the semi-conductor industry to bio-medical applications in health care. Important examples include new sterilisation techniques, wound healing including the development of dressings, and perhaps one day even cancer treatments.
Low-pressure plasmas, contained in vacuum vessels, are used for a very wide range of technological processes, including etching, depositing surface coatings and modifying the functional form of surfaces (e.g. biocompatibility of surgical implants or waterproofing of textiles). This lab will enable the development and optimisation of these processes, with potential benefits to a range of industries, from packaging and clothing to healthcare.
Atmospheric pressure, non-thermal plasmas are a relatively new discovery and offer advantages over low-pressure plasma systems, including potential cost reductions due to the absence of vacuum vessels. More importantly it allows us to treat temperature sensitive non-vacuum compatible materials. Little is known about their properties because characteristics are difficult to measure. This lab will focus on the basic science and understanding of atmospheric pressure plasmas.
Spectroscopy is a key tool for diagnosing plasma properties. A variety of active laser-based spectroscopy techniques and passive emission spectroscopy techniques allow us to directly measure key species and plasma parameters in both atmospheric pressure plasmas and low-pressure systems.
Micro-plasmas are very small-scale plasmas. They are combined into vast arrays to create plasma TV screens, for example. Our research in this area focuses on the properties of these plasmas, especially how they interact with each other when many are brought together into an array.
Our high performance computing is typically done on large, national supercomputers such as HECToR or HPC-FF. We have an in-house Beowulf cluster with 56 cores (to be upgraded to 104 cores) that is suitable for smaller simulations, and for preparing large simulations for the national machines.