IEPPG Hot Topics:

Feuerbälle ("Fire balls")


Ein so genannter Feuerball: eine lokalisierte Plasmaformation vor einer positiv vorgespannten kreisförmigen Elektrode von 10 mm Durchmesser (hier wegen des gezogenen Elektronenstromes glühend) in einem dünnen Argongasentladungsplasma in der Innsbrucker DP-Maschine.
Ein mehrfacher Feuerball vor einer positiv vorgespannten Elektrode in der Innsbrucker DP-Maschine


Plasma - the fourth state of matter


Plasma (in its physical meaning) ...

  •  is matter which is essentially determined by free electric charge carriers - usually electrons and positive ions -, but has nothing to do with blood or cellular plasma;
  •  is the so-called fourth state of matter, which every gas assumes when heated to temperatures of a few 1000 K;
  •  is that state in which more than 99.99 % of the visible matter of the universe is;
  •  can - because of the presence of free electric charge carriers - be manipulated by electric and magnetic fields and can be utilised in many ways.

Plasma can be found ...

  •  in the ionosphere and the magnetosphere of the earth, so just 60 km above our heads;
  •  in all active stars;
  •  more or less thinly distributed in the entire interplanetary, interstellar and intergalactic space;
  •  in fluorescent light bulbs, in gas discharge light sources (as for instance in floodlightings or xenon headlights of cars), in laboratory plasma machines and by now in hundreds of vari-ous technical applications, especially in the coating and etching of different surfaces; this plasma techniques nowadays comprises an enormous and strongly increasing range of vari-ous industrial processes; a completely new application is the treatment of bio-materials (for instances the yarn for medical operations or prostheses) by plasmas in order to increase the bio-compatibility (e.g., to reduce the coagulation of blood on such bio-materials);
  •  in those devices in which nuclear fusion is attempted to be realised, which in future could provide humanity with an inexhaustible source of energy.

Plasma phenomena ...

  •  are widespread and fascinating because plasma systems are - in contrast to other physical objects - mostly strongly nonlinear, since they are not only governed by the usual laws of thermodynamics and statistics like gases but also by the laws of electrodynamics; plasma systems also show self-consistent behaviour and have therefore a tendency to self-organisation and can thereby form more and more complex systems;
  •  are in the ionosphere not only the reason for the auroras but have also a much stronger influence on the lower layers of the Earth's atmosphere, and thereby also on the weather, than usually assumed;
  •  have probably played a much more essential role during the evolution of the universe, of the galaxies and solar systems than astrophysicists and cosmologists are willing to admit;
  •  are in many respects still not sufficiently understood, both as for technical applications and for nuclear fusion, so that their fundamental investigation is still of an enormous practi-cal relevance.

Plasma physics ...

  •  is for many years being taught at the University of Innsbruck, and intensive research is carried out on various fascinating subjects;
  •  is represented in the experiment by the Innsbruck Experimental Plasma Physics Group (IEPPG) under the supervision of Prof. Roman Schrittwieser at the Institute for Ion Physics and in theory by the Plasma and Energy Physics (PEP) Group under the supervision of Prof. Siegbert Kuhn at the Institute for Theoretical Physics;
  •  offers for interested students opportunities for master theses and doctoral theses on fascinating subjects, for which - according to the financial possibilities - also partial payment can be offered, research visits at other universities and research institutions in the whole world (especially EU, but also USA and Japan), offering afterwards good job opportunities in the industry and in many international research laboratories;
  •  attains new importance for Austria in connection with nuclear fusion research since in November 1996 an association has been formed between EURATOM and the Austrian Academy of Sciences on the field of fusion physics, within which the two Innsbruck Plasma Physics Groups are represented by two projects; thereby the Innsbruck Plasma Physics Groups are integrated also formally in the European - and thereby also in the world-wide - fusion research programme and thereby attains access to many relevant institutions, activities and scientific results.