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Dr Erik Wagenaars
Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor)



MSc; PhD (Eindhoven); CPhys MInstP

Summary of expertise

  • Low-temperature plasmas
  • Laser ablation
  • Plasma-based thin film deposition
  • Plasma diagnostic development
  • Technological applications of plasmas

Previous posts

2007-08: Research Scientist, Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology / Philips Extreme UV GmbH, Germany

2008-11: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of York


  • High Technology Plasma Processes Young Scientist Award
  • Gaseous Electronics Conference Student Award for Excellence

Departmental roles

  • YPI Industry Officer (Technological plasmas)

University roles

  • Natural Sciences Senior Admissions Tutor



Research group: York Plasma Institute

Our research activities are presented in the Low-Temperature Plasmas research section of the York Plasma Institute.

Research interests:

  • Low-temperature plasmas: atmospheric-pressure plasma jets, low-pressure rf plasmas for etching and deposition
  • Laser ablation
  • Plasma diagnostics
  • Plasma-surface interactions and modifications
  • Technological applications of plasmas, including plasma-based thin film deposition


Full publication list available in the York Research Database.


Research group(s)

PhD students

  • Mr Joseph Branson
  • Mr David Meehan
  • Mr Eduardo Solis Meza
  • Mr James Lolley

Former PhD students

  • Dr Andrew West - PDRA University of Manchester
  • Dr Sudha Rajendiran - PDRA Research Centre for Gas Innovation (Brazil)
  • Dr David Shaw - PDRA University of York

Available PhD research projects

Unravelling the physics and chemistry of Plasma-Enhanced Pulsed Laser Deposition

Self funded & fully funded positions available

Metal oxide thin films like ZnO, Al2O3 and TiO2 are widely used in industry in microelectronics, catalysts and display devices. Conventional techniques for the production of these films, such as pulsed laser deposition (PLD), chemical vapour deposition and physical vapour deposition, all suffer from a lack of fundamental understanding of the underlying physical processes and detailed control of the deposited film properties. The goal of this research is to overcome these limitations by introducing a new deposition technique that uniquely combines laser and electrically produced plasmas: Plasma-Enhanced Pulsed Laser Deposition (PE-PLD).

The PE-PLD process can be described as 3 phases with distinctly different physics involved: laser ablation, plume dynamics and interactions, and thin-film formation. These individual processes have been studied in isolation in some detail, but the multi-scale and multi-physics nature of the PE-PLD process means that linking these studies is challenging, limiting what can be learned practically about how to better control thin film production.

This project will focus on enhancing the understanding of the underpinning plasma physics and chemistry of PE-PLD. You will combine state-of-the-art multiscale numerical modelling with direct measurements of plasma properties performed in the YPI Laboratories. The overall aim of the research is to provide predictive knowledge of high-quality thin film production, superior to current empirical methods.




  • Stage 1: Newtonian Mechanics
  • Stage 3: Advanced Experimental Laboratory
  • Stage 4: Light and Matter: Lasers and Atom-Light Interactions 
  • BSc Projects: current topics in low-temperature plasma and laser-plasma science and technology
  • MPhys Projects: current topics in low-temperature plasma and laser-plasma science and technology 


  • MSc Projects: current topics in low-temperature plasma and laser-plasma science and technology

External activities


  • Member of Institute of Physics
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Honorary Secretary of the Institute of Physics Ion and Plasma Surface Interactions Group Committee (2014-present)
  • Member of the International Scientific Committee of the Europhysics Conference on Atomic and Molecular Physics of Ionized Gases (2016-present)
  • Member of Scientific Committee of the annual Workshop on the Exploration of Low Temperature Plasma Physics (2012-present)
  • Chair of the local organising committee for the 11th Technological Plasma Workshop 2013

Invited talks and conferences

Invited talks

  • 59th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics, Milwaukee (USA), 2017.
  • International Conference on Phenomena in Ionized Gases, Lisbon (Portugal), 2017.
  • International Conference on Plasma Surface Engineering, Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany), 2016.
  • Functional Thin Films, Coventry (UK), 2016.
  • International Conference on Atomic Processes in Plasmas, Paris (France), 2016.
  • IUVSTA Workshop, Braga (Portugal), 2015.
  • Institute of Physics Plasma Physics Conference, Milton Keynes (UK), 2015.
  • Gordon Research Conference Plasma Processing Science, Smithfield (USA), 2014.
  • Mathematical Sciences Seminar, Loughborough University (UK), 2014.
  • International Symposium on Laser Aided Plasma Diagnostics, Madison (USA), 2013.
  • Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics Seminar, Durham University (UK), 2013.


Outreach activities

  • Public lecture "Everyday plasmas", PhysSoc, York, 24 February 2015.
  • School outreach event, "Science Week", Applegarth Primary School, Northallerton, 20 March 2015.

Erik Wagenaars

Department of Physics
University of York
YO10 5DD
Tel: +44 (0)1904 324904
Fax: +44 (0)1904 322214
Room: GN/010, YPI