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Laser Interactions & High Density Plasmas - PHY00040M

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Greg Tallents
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The extended nature of the dominant Coulomb force between the particles in a plasma ensures that the behaviour is markedly different to that of gases where the forces are short range. As a result plasma has two distinct dynamic patterns associated with correlated long range motions - collective effects- and collisions. The module seeks to extend student knowledge in high energy density and laser plasma interactions with a view to equipping them for research in these areas. Some of the material will reinforce and revise undergraduate physics topics which may be important for students not proceeding to fusion work.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content:

Students commence the course by developing an understanding of plasma collective effects and collisions. Specifically,the course will enable students to:

Derive the Vlasov equation and understand the need for a collision operator in the context of Debye shielding.

Linearise the Vlasov equation to obtain the plasma dielectric function and understand how the form of the dielectric function gives rise to Landau damping.

Write down the form of the Krook and Fokker-Planck collision operators.

Derive the diffusion coefficients for a magnetised plasma and use this derivation to illustrate the need to close the fluid equations.

Explain the origin of the Braginskii transport relations

Understand the physics of laser interactions with plasmas of different scalelengths and a range of irradiances from 109 Wcm-2 to greater than 1022 Wcm-2

Appreciate the additional plasma physics involving radiation and pressure effects important in high energy density plasmas.

Derive the equivalent equation to the Boltzmann ratio for ionization balance for an equilibrium plasma the Saha equation.

Understand aspects of radiative transfer important in laser-produced plasmas and ICF.

Academic and graduate skills:

Students will obtain an understanding and an ability to apply knowledge in the above topics to research issues.

The topics cover a broad range of physics and so will serve to broaden and revise some undergraduate physics not covered elsewhere in the MSc.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 14
Online Exam
Laser Interactions and High Density Plasmas
N/A 86

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam
Laser Interactions and High Density Plasmas
N/A 86

Module feedback

Our policy on how you receive feedback for formative and summative purposes is contained in our Department Handbook.

Indicative reading

Plasma Dynamics, Dendy RO, OUP (1990).

The Physics of Plasmas, Boyd & Sanderson, Cambridge University Press (2003)

High Energy density physics, Drake R P, Springer (2006)

Atomic physics in hot plasmas, Salzmann D, OUP (1998)

Radiative processes in Astrophysics, Rybicki GB and Lightman AP, Wiley (1979)

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.