Posted on 8 June 2011
A new research team based at the University’s York Plasma Institute will focus on the science of low temperature plasmas, working closely with industry and partners from other universities to look at its technological applications.
Low temperature plasmas underpin many technologies in our lives - TV-displays, mobile phones, computer chips, solar-cells and lighting - and many products would not exist without plasmas. A new exciting field emerging is plasma medicine which could lead to wound healing, cancer therapy, hand sterilizers and cosmetic treatments.
The new team – Professor Timo Gans, Dr Deborah O’Connell and Dr Erik Wagenaars - took up their positions on 1 June. The appointments form part of a partnership between EPSRC and the University which has created a world-leading interdisciplinary plasma research centre, including a new purpose-built laboratory due for completion at the end of this year.
The work of the low temperature plasmas team will complement the existing plasma research at York. This involves the use of extremely high temperature plasmas – hotter than the core of the Sun – to create the conditions where fusion reactions can occur. There are valuable synergies between lower temperature technological plasmas and fusion plasmas that will be exploited to maximise the impact of the work of the York Plasma Institute’s research.
York Plasma Institute’s Director Professor Howard Wilson recently received a Gold award for excellence in the University’s Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Outstanding Achievement. The award recognised his outstanding leadership and innovation in creating the Institute.
Professor Wilson said: “We are very pleased to welcome such high-calibre academics to the York Plasma Institute. They will play a key role in the success of the Institute, exploiting synergies with their colleagues working with high temperature plasmas and other related disciplines, and driving collaborations with industry.
“By nurturing collaborative programmes between University academics and industry through the Plasma Institute, we will be able to maximise the value of our research and its impact on society.”
Professor Timo Gans has become Chair of Low Temperature Plasmas. Previously a Lecturer at Queens University Belfast, his current research involves using optical diagnostics and numerical computer simulations to investigate the dynamics of transient phenomena in low temperature plasmas.
He said: “I am very much looking forward to taking full advantage of the unique environment at the York Plasma Institute. Close collaboration with industries will release the full potential of our research focusing on the underlying science of low temperature plasmas for developing control and manipulation strategies towards specific technological applications. These technologies range from plasma nano-fabrication techniques in the semiconductor industry to newly emerging bio-medical exploitations in the health care industry.”
Dr Deborah O’Connell joins the York Plasma Institute as a Lecturer. She previously held an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship at Queens University Belfast. Her current research interests include fundamental investigations of micro-plasmas and their potential bio-medical applications. These plasmas can be confined to micrometers – the dimensions of living cells, or extended to very large areas – meters. On the one hand allowing very localised surgery, or on the other, treatments of 3-d objects using flexible arrays of micro-plasmas.
Dr Erik Wagenaars also joins the Institute as a Lecturer. His research will focus on developing novel diagnostic techniques capable of studying the physics underpinning the small, highly transient plasmas used in many low-temperature plasma applications. With these new diagnostics the team will create a thorough understanding of how the plasmas work, and how they can be controlled and improved, leading to new plasma-based commercial products.