Plasma Physics

Riverside Research provides responsive solutions employing theoretical predictions and analyses, system modeling and simulation, and validation experiments using state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to advance research needs involving terrestrial and space plasma applications. Riverside Research’s plasma physics laboratory performs research in the area of plasma science in order to solve advanced problems in several diverse areas such as ionospheric physics, the effects of plasma turbulence on electromagnetic scattering, effects of space weather on earth’s systems, plasma-based propulsion, and plasma regions that form around hypersonic vehicles.

Riverside Research’s plasma physics laboratory was built to investigate plasmas in order to understand their behavior by performing controlled experiments. One area we are currently researching involves the ionosphere, which is a layer of plasma that naturally surrounds the earth and is located at an altitude of ~100 km–1000 km. In many cases, the development of ionospheric turbulence is known to have an adverse effect on signals, such as those used for the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Over-the-Horizon Radar (OTHR). To provide insight into the complicated physics that govern this type of interaction, we have developed a large volume plasma source that will enable us to investigate these phenomena.

Our plasma physics laboratory primary research thrusts include:

  • Magnetospheric physics and space weather
  • Ionospheric physics and turbulence
  • Effect of turbulence on the process of electromagnetic wave scattering
  • Computational plasma physics
  • Plasma-based meta-materials
  • Plasma regions associated with hypersonic vehicles
  • Dusty plasmas
  • Plasma-based space propulsion
  • Component testing in plasma-filled environments

Work in these areas is pursued with a wide array of laboratory equipment which includes:

  • 5.3 m x 2.5 m vacuum chamber with base pressure 0.1–1.0 µTorr
  • 0.4 m3 volume vacuum chamber capable of evacuating to pressures of ~5 µTorr on rapid time scales
  • Large volume (~4 m3) quiescent magnetized plasma source
  • High resolution optical and triple grating spectroscopy-based diagnostics 
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Plasma Physics