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Introduction to Plasma Science & Technology - PHY00040H

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Deborah O'Connell
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Additional information

Students enrolled on this module should have taken Electromagnetism and Optics and Mathematics II or the appropriate equivalents. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

A plasma is an ionised gas containing free electrons and ions. The freedom of the electrical charges to move in response to electric and magnetic fields couples the charged particles so that they respond collectively to external fields. Plasmas are common place around the universe and have many important technological and biomedical applications on Earth, so the topic of plasma physics is important in many branches of science, linking to medicine, materials, fusion, particle acceleration and astrophysics. This course aims to introduce the basic plasma physics principles through a combination of physical pictures and mathematical analyses, often using examples of research activities at York to provide specific applications. The course will introduce aspects of plasma science and technology across magnetic confinement fusion, laser plasma interactions and low temperature plasma research activity at York.

 

Module learning outcomes

Describe, both through physical pictures and mathematics, the orbits of individual particles in magnetic and electric fields: the cyclotron frequency, the guiding centre, the ExB drift, the gradB and curvature drifts and the polarisation drift.

Describe the physics of Debye shielding and be able to derive the Debye length mathematically. Write down the definitions of a plasma.

Demonstrate an understanding of the distribution function and how to derive plasma density and flux by integrating over velocity space.

Describe the physics of a plasma sheath and be able to drive plasma sheath parameters using a simplified sheath model.

Without rigorous mathematical derivation, describe how plasma fluid equations can be obtained from the kinetic equations for plasma evolution. Given the fluid equations, describe the physics of the individual terms.

Recall the requirements and criteria to obtain fusion and outline two confinement strategies for fusion plasmas.

Discuss weakly ionised plasmas and plasma breakdown and electron transport in dc electric fields

Recall the requirements and criteria to obtain fusion and outline two confinement strategies for fusion plasmas.

Discuss in depth the physics that underpins a research topic, chosen from one of the following areas of plasma science: Magnetic Confinement Fusion, Laser Plasma Interactions or Low Temperature Plasma.

Module content

12 lectures on fundamental plasma physics covering

  • Charged particle orbits and drifts in electromagnetic fields
  • Debye shielding and formal definition of a plasma
  • Plasma sheath
  • Distribution functions and velocity space integration
  • Kinetic equation and fluid equations (without detailed derivation), diamagnetic drift
  • Ideal MHD equations

6 lectures introducing frontier applications of plasma physics

Two Magnetic Confinement Fusion lectures on:

  • Tokamak design and confinement criteria for burning plasmas
  • Diagnostic systems and understanding the plasma to tokamak wall interaction

Two Laser Plasma Interaction lectures on:

  • Inertial Confinement Fusion and confinement criteria for burning plasmas
  • Simulating astrophysical and planetary plasmas in the laboratory and the onset quantum electrodynamics

Two Low Temperature Plasma lectures on:

  • Future plasma medical technologies; how electrons, ions, reactive neutrals, UV and electric fields interact with biological material
  • Low-pressure plasmas, for example, used in plasma etching in manufacturing computer chips. or solar cells and satellite space thrusters.

Lecture notes

Students are expected to take their own notes during lectures. A set of skeleton notes will be made available online at the end of the course.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Introduction to Plasma Science & Technology Assignment 1
N/A 32
Essay/coursework
Introduction to Plasma Science & Technology Assignment 2
N/A 32
Essay/coursework
Introduction to Plasma Science & Technology Assignment 3
N/A 36

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Physics Practice Questions (PPQs) are unassessed.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Introduction to Plasma Science & Technology Assignment 1
N/A 32
Essay/coursework
Introduction to Plasma Science & Technology Assignment 2
N/A 32
Essay/coursework
Introduction to Plasma Science & Technology Assignment 3
N/A 36

Module feedback

Exams - You will receive exam marks from eVision. Detailed model answers will be provided on the internet. You should discuss your performance with your supervisor.

Advice on academic progress - Individual meetings with supervisor will take place where you can discuss your academic progress in detail.

Assignments - Feedback on assignments will be returned within four weeks of the assignment deadline.

Indicative reading

Introduction to Plasma Science and Technology

Umran S. Inan and Marek Golkowski Principles of Plasma Physics for Engineers and Scientists –, Cambridge

University Press (2011)

Chen F F: Introduction to plasma physics and controlled fusion (Plenum) ***

Goldston & Rutherford: Introduction to plasma physics (IoP) **

For specialist Intro. PS&T lectures

Atzeni and Meyer-ter- Vehn: The physics of inertial fusion (Oxford Science) **

Wesson: Tokamaks, Oxford Science Publications ***

Alexander Fridman and Gary Friedman, Plasma Medicine, Wiley (2013)



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students