Active Research Areas

3D Plasma Photonic Crystal

Plasma Photonics and Metamaterials

In our lab we use devices composed of plasma elements to mold electromagnetic radiation in interesting and novel ways. Using techniques and physics that are studied in our lab, we can create devices that serve as bandgap devices, optical filters, waveguides, optical computing components, and even cloaking devices. Check out our papers in this exciting field.

Diagram of fuel-lined target for inertial confinement fusion


In our lab we study many phenomena with direct application to fusion. The plasma deflagration accelerator facility gives us insight into z-pinch and plasma jet-driven magnetoinertial fusion schemes, and we are also active in the inertial confinement fusion field. We use hybrid fluid/kinetic simulations to model the interpenetrating plasma jets produced by the configuration in the diagram above and compare the model to experimental data from the OMEGA laser facility at Rochester and the National Ignition Facility at LLNL. To see some of our work in this area, check out papers by current and former group members Will Riedel and Thomas Underwood.

Stanford Plasma Deflagration Accelerator

Hypervelocity Plasma Jets

The Stanford Plasma Deflagration Accelerator (shown here) is used as a platform for studying fusion, plasma-material interactions, propulsion, and the fundamental physics of plasma instability and turbulence. The apparatus produces high-density plasma jets that can travel in excess of 100 km/s. To see some of our work on this apparatus, check out papers by current and former group members Thomas Underwood, Ben Wang, and Keith Loebner.

Power spectrum of a magnetron discharge

Plasma Turbulence and Instability

Turbulence in plasma retains all the complexity of fluid turbulence and then adds the rich physics of Maxwell’s equations. In our lab we use both numerics and experiment to investigate unstable modes in several systems ranging from plasma jets to magnetron discharges. To see some of our work in this area, check out papers by current and former group members Andrea Marcovati and Thomas Underwood.

Z70 Hall Effect Thruster

Plasma Thrusters

Our lab has been active in the electric propulsion field for more than 20 years, with recent interest in the area sparking new projects. We have active projects investigating novel Hall effect thruster (shown here) designs and operating gas mixtures as well as pulsed plasma accelerator-based thrusters. To see some of our more recent work in this area, check out papers by former group members Andrea Lucca Fabris and Chris Young.

Plasma-activated water

Plasma Chemistry

Another area of renewed interest in our lab is the study of chemical reactions that are catalyzed by the presence of energetic ionized gas. Our group is studying plasma-activated water and its effectiveness in nourishing plants. Shown here is an image of an experiment where small plasma discharge jets are incident on an open container of water, generating nitrates.