Plasma physics is the study of charged particles and fluids interacting with self-consistent electric and magnetic fields. It is a basic research discipline that has many different areas of application — space and astrophysics, controlled fusion, accelerator physics and beam storage.
Basic research is carried out and applied to all of these areas by CU scientists in the Physics Department and collaborators in Institutes such as LASP and departments such as APS. The three broad categories of plasma research—theoretical, computer simulation and laboratory studies—are all well-represented in the Physics Department.
Institute for Modeling Plasma, Atmospheres and Cosmic Dust
Institute for Modeling Plasma, Atmospheres and Cosmic Dust (IMPACT) explores the lunar dust/plasma environment through a combination of modeling, theoretical work and laboratory experiments. We develop new experimental processes to determine:
- The effects that a charged surface mobilizing dusty particles affects the lunar atmosphere
- How solar radiation is responsible for the lunar dusty atmosphere
- How dust can be mitigated on lunar missions
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) is a full-cycle space institute, combining all aspects of space exploration through expertise in science, engineering, mission operations, and scientific data analysis. LASP is an institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU).
The LASP Space Plasma Group seeks to understand the fundamental processes in our Universe. The group approaches these issues from a kinetic point of view, by conducting in-situ measurements from the aurora region and solar wind. The LASP groups offer several seminars throughout the school year.
Center for Integrated Plasma Studies (CIPS)
The purpose of the Center for Integrated Plasma Studies (CIPS) is to provide a focal point and forum for the exchange of both educational and research ideas among scientists with these diverse affiliations. Research in plasma physics is extraordinarily broad, encompassing basic physics of plasmas, fusion sciences, space and astrophysics, beam and accelerator physics, laser-matter interactions, and industrial processing. CIPS possesses scientific expertise in all of these areas, and will foster unique new opportunities for sponsored research in interdisciplinary aspects of plasma physics. CIPS sets the guidelines for both undergraduate and graduate education in plasma physics at the University of Colorado, providing research opportunities and guidance for plasma physics doctoral candidates.