In principle, all macroscopic properties of matter are determined by its microscopic states and interactions acting at the level of individual atoms. This relationship, however, remains one of the great unsolved questions in physics. Ideally, simultaneous observations of macroscopic and microscopic properties would be necessary to observe direct connections. Due to the extreme differences in distances and time scales between the two worlds, this is practically impossible in the case of atomic matter.
Dusty plasmas are systems where micrometer size solid particles are electrically charged and levitated in glow discharge plasmas. These dust particles are easily observable using video microscopy and can be traced individually in the phase space by applying the particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) technique. An ensemble consisting of thousands of electrically charged, mutually interacting dust particles exhibit macroscopic properties qualitatively equivalent to those of traditional atomic matter and therefore can be used as model systems of the latter.
Dusty plasma experiments are actively conducted in gas discharge laboratories on the ground and onboard the International Space Station (PK-4 experiment), benefiting from the stable microgravity conditions. Being a member group of the extended PK-4 science team we have access to the unprocessed data produced by the experiment. With access to experimental facilities in our own laboratory and in that of international collaborations, we design, propose, conduct, and evaluate dusty plasma experiments, which are in most cases supported by numerical simulations of equivalent many-particle systems.
The Ph.D. candidate will receive training in fundamental gas discharge physics, the physics of strongly coupled plasmas, and related experimental and numerical techniques. After acquiring the necessary basics she/he will actively contribute to the investigations carried out by numerous dusty plasma experiments, targeting the understanding of structural and dynamical properties of the ensemble of charged dust particles. These properties include string formation in the PK-4 microgravity experiment, solitary wave propagation and wave-wave interactions in two-dimensional dusty plasmas, transport phenomena in 3D and 2D, and the effect of external magnetic fields on the collective dynamics.
English language (intermediate level)
Creative attitude for problem solving