USD Plasma Physics Research

site under construction!

Hi! Welcome to the Laboratory for Basic Plasma Physics Research here at USD! Below you will find links to descriptions of the plasma state of matter (the hottest state of matter in the universe :) and to readings and resources that will help you see what's going on our lab.

My current research interests are these: basic plasma physics, low temperature plasma physics, the physics of sheath formation, ion dynamics in the plasma boundary layer, plasma diagnostics, laser-induced fluorescence, and the use of tunable diode lasers for ion dynamics diagnostics. My research work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the US Dept. of Energy from 1997-2001, and from 2003 to the present. I have an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Noah Hershkowitz at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the College of Engineering, department of Engineering Physics. I also do work in area of the design of lower division and upper division physics laboratory experiments, and in the exploration of relationships between Science and Faith.

I became fascinated with the plasma state of matter during a visit to the Plasma Physics Laboratory at UCLA (Prof. Al Wong, Director) where I was an undergraduate. I eventually worked for Walter Gekelman, and Guy Dimonte while I was there . One day I looked inside a vacuum chamber in which a plasma was confined. It was both luminous and transparent, and just, just....awesome! I was able to see right through it, but also I could see the glow emitted from every cubic centimeter of it -- an amazing sight. That such a state of matter could one day, perhaps, become the medium in which sustained and controlled fusion reactions could occur that might be used to create enormous amounts of clean power was very fascinating (also without a negative impact on global warming, but no one was talking about that in the late 70's) . After a Ph.D in plasma physics, and a transition to the world of the liberal arts undergraduate university, with small departments and smaller budgets (but with great opportunities to teach and to mentor very bright, curious, undergraduate students!--see below), I was amazed to find that there are some very cool, very fundamental problems in fundamental plasma physics still unsolved, after all this time (plasma physics and quantum mechanics are roughly the same age). I am working on one of those problems: the formation of the plasma sheath. It is a very cool problem. More on this presently!

Some recent graduates and collaborators at USD. Tim Welsh ('14--BS/BA Engineering, BA Physics), and Chris Yip ('14 BA Physics, BA Computer Science)


Guide to Lab Stuff

item description
Safety Stuff guidelines and forms
Links to readings Plasma physics stuff, readings, manuals, etc.
publications selected research journal publications and conference presentations
CV where i've been, grants received, and so forth

Lab Safety


How to build a Langmuir Probe

fabrication notes

Plasma physics readings


Research journal articles

Recent conference papers and posters


CV 2012




File translated from TEX by TTH, version 3.81.
Jun. 2013