A proposed Magnetized Dusty Plasma User Facility
E. Thomas, Jr. (Auburn Univ.), R. L. Merlino (Univ. Iowa), M. Rosenberg (UCSD)
As the experimental study of dusty (complex) plasmas has advanced over the last two
decades, a great deal of new insight has been gained on the complex interaction between the
background plasma and charged microparticles.
Even through the charged dust grains in a
typical experiment can acquire several thousand elementary charges, the large mass of the
grains ensures that the charge-to-mass ratio is quite low.
As a result, it has been considered
experimentally challenging to design an experiment that can achieve full magnetization of
ions, electrons, and the charged dust grains.
However, with continuing improvements in
contemplate the development of a Magnetized Dusty Plasma Facility.
This work is supported by NSF grant number PHY-0936470 (AU), DOE Grant No. DE-
FG01-04ER54795 (UI) and DOE Grant No. DE-FG02-04ER54804 (UCSD)
Feasibility of a magnetized dusty plasma facility
Why a magnetized dusty plasma?
Previous experiments on magnetized dusty plasmas
Magnetized Dusty Plasma Experiment
• Preliminary calculations suggest that the development and operation of a US magnetized
dusty plasma user facility can be successful.
• Preliminary magnet designs show that the operating conditions needed for performing
experiments are reasonable and achievable.
• Partner Institutions:
Auburn, Baylor, Colorado, Iowa, LANL, MIT, MPE, NRL, PPPL, Wittenberg
• Naturally occurring plasmas at all scales – from noctilucent clouds at the top of Earth’s
atmosphere to proto-stellar and proto-planetary disks - have both magnetic fields and
• Because the addition of the charged dust modifies the properties of the plasma, current
experiments have all focused on the dust – plasma interaction.
• Almost all of these experiments are operated in regimes without magnetic fields or with
magnetized electrons only.
• With the knowledge gained from the last two decades of research, it is now possible to
explore the true behavior of a dusty plasma in nature – a system that includes both
charged microparticles and magnetic fields.
Therefore, to advance the complete understanding of dusty plasmas, it is necessary
to study fully magnetized plasmas – where first the electrons, then the ions, and
finally the charged dust are confined by the magnetic field.
• The presence of the magnetic field modifies all of the properties of the plasma by adding