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Plasma Physics

Plasma Physics

Course Outline: 

Plasmas are ubiquitous in the universe and thus an understanding of plasma behaviour is essential for space physics and for much of astrophysics. This course will provide a basic introduction to a range of plasma phenomena. Applications to natural plasmas are given with a view to providing the necessary foundation for a study of space science.



  • Characteristics of plasmas, collective behaviour.

Single particle motion and drifts:

  • Motion in uniform fields, in non-uniform fields and time-varying fields; adiabatic invariants, trapped particles.

Two-fluid model of a plasma:

  • Fluid equations; fluid drifts.

Waves in plasmas:

  • Electrostatic waves: electron and ion frequency waves; oscillations and waves in a magnetic field. Electromagnetic waves: electron and ion frequency waves; EM waves in a magnetic field, parallel and perpendicular propagation.

Collisional effects:

  • Diffusion, mobility, magnetic field effects; resistivity, magnetic reconnection.

Equilibrium and stability:

  • Macroinstabilities, streaming fluid instabilities.

Kinetic theory:

  • Kinetic wave theory, Landau damping, plasma dispersion function, magnetic field effects, non-Maxwellian distributions, microinstabilities.

Nonlinear effects:

  • Quasilinear theory; shocks, solitons and double layers; parametric instabilities; ponderomotive force.

Dusty plasmas:

  • Dust grains in plasmas, charging effects, waves in dusty plasmas, self-gravitational effects, strongly coupled dusty plasmas and complex plasma behaviour.


  • F. F. Chen, Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, Vol 1. Plasma Physics, Plenum, 1984.
  • N. A. Krall and A. W. Trivelpiece, Principles of Plasma Physics, McGraw Hill, 1973.
  • D. R. Nicholson, Introduction to Plasma Theory Wiley, 1983.
  • W. Baumjohann and R. A. Treumann, Basic Space Plasma Physics, Imperial College Press & World Scientific, 1997.
  • R. A. Treumann and W. Baumjohann, Advanced Space Plasma Physics, Imperial College Press & World Scientific, 1997.
  • F. Verheest, Waves in Dusty Space Plasmas, Kluwer, 2000.

Programmes | by Dr. Radut