Plasma Physics Research Potential

In summary, the individual is in their final year of an aircraft propulsion PhD and has developed a passion for plasma physics due to its similarities to fluid dynamics. They are interested in transitioning to a less well-defined field, such as physics, and are considering a plasma research MSc to fill their knowledge gap and be considered for a plasma physics postdoc. However, they have seen a documentary that suggests fusion plasma physics may be becoming more routine and engineering-focused. They have questions about the potential for fundamental research and the satisfaction of their thirst for understanding in plasma physics. They are also interested in opportunities in engineering physics and the potential for scientific discovery in fluid dynamics. There are various opportunities in computational plasma physics, space plasma physics, and low temperature plas
  • #1
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I'm currently in my final year of an aircraft propulsion PhD and have become passionate about plasma physics, due to its fluid like similarities. I find engineering too-well-defined for my liking and would like to research in a less well defined field, i.e. physics. I am considering taking a plasma research MSc to fill my knowledge gap and hopefully enable me to be considered for a plasma physics postdoc.

However, I saw a documentary on the JET Fusion Lab and Brian Cox (physicist) described the work as being somewhat routine i.e. well defined research. My questions are; how much room is there for fusion plasma physicists to perform 'fundamental' research? Is it becoming more of an engineering problem than a scientific one? Would the move to plasma physics likely satisfy my thirst for understanding rather than engineering manipulating?

Thanks for your time, any help is much appreciated.
 
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  • #2
MagnetoBLI said:
I'm currently in my final year of an aircraft propulsion PhD and have become passionate about plasma physics, due to its fluid like similarities. I find engineering too-well-defined for my liking and would like to research in a less well defined field, i.e. physics. I am considering taking a plasma research MSc to fill my knowledge gap and hopefully enable me to be considered for a plasma physics postdoc.

However, I saw a documentary on the JET Fusion Lab and Brian Cox (physicist) described the work as being somewhat routine i.e. well defined research. My questions are; how much room is there for fusion plasma physicists to perform 'fundamental' research? Is it becoming more of an engineering problem than a scientific one? Would the move to plasma physics likely satisfy my thirst for understanding rather than engineering manipulating?

Thanks for your time, any help is much appreciated.
One could contact Culham and find out about jobs and academic opportunities.
http://www.ccfe.ac.uk/jobs.aspx

http://www.culhamphd.org.uk/
http://www.culhamphd.org.uk/typicalPhDtopics.html

http://www.york.ac.uk/physics/postgraduate/fusion-dtn/


I have found engineering to anything but routine, but then I work with a rather unique group that applies theory and develops methods - computational systems and methodology - and perform predictive analyses. In some cases, we need to improve on the theoretical understanding in order to improve computational capabilites.

I actually prefer to combine engineering (applied physics) with physics, and that applies to condensed matter, liquids, gases and plasmas. Computational physics now spans scales from the atom to engineered systems (engineering scale).

There are opportunities in plasma propuslion systems.
http://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/pro/pp/DS4G/background.htm [Broken]
http://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/pro/pp/DS4G/DS4G%20description.html [Broken]

http://prl.anu.edu.au/SP3/research/DSFG Thruster/DS4G.php

http://www.mars-space.co.uk/Pages/DS4GHiPERProject.aspx [Broken]
 
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  • #3
Thanks for the MHD links, I'll look into that.

Ah yes, I am also considering applying to engineering physics departments; mainly topics such as nanotechnology materials interaction with fluid flow. I understand that, in general, not many analytical fluid dynamics solutions exist. Does this mean novel numerical solutions are being developed to understand these more complex flows? Does scientific discovery exist in fluid dynamics or is it mostly new techniques of modelling known phenomena?

Cheers
 
  • #4
Besides fusion research, another option is Space Plasma Physics. Space plasma physics studies things like the sun, solar wind, planetary magnetospheres and ionospheres, etc. One prime journal is Journal of Geophysical Reasearch A (space physics). Other journals are Physics of Plasmas, Geophysical research letters. This is what I studied in graduate school and found it to be a lot of fun.

jason
 
  • #5
MagnetoBLI said:
I understand that, in general, not many analytical fluid dynamics solutions exist.
Usually only in ideal cases. In most cases, fluid behavior is non-linear, e.g., turbulent flow, and particularly heated and/or high velocity flows, and particularly if there is fluid-structure interaction.

quote]Does this mean novel numerical solutions are being developed to understand these more complex flows? Does scientific discovery exist in fluid dynamics or is it mostly new techniques of modelling known phenomena? [/QUOTE] Yes. CFD. Scientific discovery exists in fluids as well as in techniques for simulating flow.

here are four major areas for plasma physics:

1. Stellar interiors and atmosphere (photosphere, chromosphere and corona, and transition zones)
2. Stellar exteriors - outside the corona
3. Terrestrial plasmas for fusion
4. Low temperature plasmas or weakly ionized gases for manufacturing and other applications.

Some basics:

Alan Hood's text on fundamentals of plasma physics
http://www-solar.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~alan/MT3601/Fundamentals/Fundamentals.html

Richard Fitzpatrick's notes
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=22090
http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/papers/papers.html
http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching/plasma/plasma.html
http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching.html - Physics courses


There is a lot of research in Computational Plasma Physics

http://wiki.cpp.alecthomas.com/wiki/Main_Page

Computational Plasma Physics: With Applications To Fusion And Astrophysics (Frontiers in Physics)
Toshi Tajima
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0813342112/?tag=pfamazon01-20

http://www.theorie.physik.uni-muenchen.de/lsruhl/index.html

https://math.nyu.edu/faculty/garabedi/index.html

Computational Models of Magnetic Fusion - HOW THE DEMO FUSION REACTOR
SHOULD LOOK IF ITER FAILS
https://math.nyu.edu/faculty/garabedi/magnetic_fusion.pdf

Computational Plasma Physics Group - Princeton - PPPL
http://w3.pppl.gov/cppg/

http://www-maths.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/pg/applied/plasma.shtml

The DOE ACTS (Advanced CompuTational Software) Collection
http://acts.nersc.gov/


Handbook of Plasma Processing Technology: Fundamentals, Etching, Deposition, and Surface Interactions
http://books.google.com/books/about/Handbook_of_Plasma_Processing_Technology.html?id=bBjpoLsyycMC
http://www.knovel.com/web/portal/browse/display?_EXT_KNOVEL_DISPLAY_bookid=522

Plasma Processing Technology Lab - U of Wisconsin
http://pptl.engr.wisc.edu/research.html

Fusion Doctoral Training Network - University of York, Heslington, York, Yorkshire, UK
http://www.york.ac.uk/physics/postgraduate/fusion-dtn/introduction/
Universities of Durham, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford and York, in collaboration with the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) and the Central Laser Facility, and with funding support from the EPSRC.
http://www.york.ac.uk/physics/ypi/
http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/business/news/9955360.Official_opening_for_York_Plasma_Institute/


University of Manchester
http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/neil.salmon/research
http://www.physics.manchester.ac.uk/research/

A basic overview of fusion
http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/~bm/Teaching/en_sources/Lecture_notes/Lecture8_fusion_notes.pdf


Looks like a nice place to study Astro and Particle physics.
University of Innsbruck, Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics
http://www.uibk.ac.at/astro/
http://www.uibk.ac.at/dk-cim/projects/kimeswenger/index.html.en


at ESA - http://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/opportunities/RF/ACT-2010-Research%20Fellow%20in%20Plasma%20Physics%20and%20Advanced%20Propulsion.pdf

These are just a sampling of opportunities out there.
 
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  • #6
jasonRF said:
Besides fusion research, another option is Space Plasma Physics. Space plasma physics studies things like the sun, solar wind, planetary magnetospheres and ionospheres, etc. One prime journal is Journal of Geophysical Reasearch A (space physics). Other journals are Physics of Plasmas, Geophysical research letters. This is what I studied in graduate school and found it to be a lot of fun.

jason
IEEE publishes IEEE Transaction on Plasma Science
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=27

IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS)
http://ewh.ieee.org/soc/nps/about-npss.html [Broken]

IoP's Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
http://iopscience.iop.org/0741-3335

See also AIP Physics of Plasmas - http://pop.aip.org/

and APS Division of Plasma Physics - http://www.apsdpp.org/index.php


An intereting path to plasma physics - http://web.mit.edu/nse/people/faculty/parradiaz.html
http://web.mit.edu/nse/news/spotlights/2011/parra.html
 
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What is Plasma Physics Research Potential?

Plasma Physics Research Potential refers to the potential advancements and discoveries that can be made through the study of plasma, which is a state of matter consisting of ionized gas. This field of research has a wide range of applications, from fusion energy to astrophysics.

How is Plasma Physics Research conducted?

Plasma Physics Research is conducted through a combination of experimental and theoretical methods. Experiments are performed in specialized facilities, such as tokamaks and laser fusion devices, to study the behavior of plasma. Theoretical models and simulations are also used to understand and predict plasma behavior.

What are the potential applications of Plasma Physics Research?

There are many potential applications of Plasma Physics Research, including fusion energy, space propulsion, materials processing, and astrophysics. Research in this field has the potential to lead to more efficient and sustainable energy sources and advancements in space exploration.

What are the challenges in Plasma Physics Research?

One of the main challenges in Plasma Physics Research is the extreme conditions that plasma exists in, such as high temperatures and pressures. This makes it difficult to contain and manipulate plasma for experimentation. Additionally, plasma is a highly complex and nonlinear system, making it challenging to model and predict its behavior.

How can Plasma Physics Research contribute to the scientific community?

Plasma Physics Research has the potential to contribute to the scientific community in various ways. It can lead to advancements in our understanding of the universe, improve our ability to harness clean and sustainable energy, and develop new technologies for space exploration. It also offers opportunities for collaboration between different fields of science, such as physics, engineering, and astrophysics.

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