PLAS@PAR research goals
Plasma physics is essential to understanding a huge variety of phenomena, occurring both in nature and in man-made devices. It also provides the theoritical fundation for a wide range of key industrial applications. The recent development of new laboratory facilities and large experimental infrastructures is enabling unprecedented extreme plasma conditions to be achieved, opening the door to unexplored phenomena which will stimulate fundamental research. However, since the field of plasma science is particularly broad, its study is scattered across many different disciplines, from astrophysics to fundamental plasma physics and industrial plasmas.
PLAS@PAR aims at creating bridges between those different fields, both in research and university teaching. Interdisciplinary research is thus at the core of the project.
Many domains in plasma physics are driven by existing or foreseen large-scale national and international research infrastructures such as:
Pulsed-power generators (Z, SPHINX)
These various large-scale research facilities are essential to create plasmas under broad and extreme conditions of pressure, temperature, magnetic field and radiation.
In contrast, industrial plasma applications (plasma processing for microelectronics, air treatment, space propulsion, combustion control, medicine...) can often be studied using smaller “table-top” experiments. Nevertheless, dedicated large-scale infrastructures are sometimes required for plasma applications research, such as safety certification for aircraft against lightning strikes.
Plas@Par combines laboratories with new large installations and smaller customized experiments, again pushing interactions between groups and sharing competences both in instrumentation and numerical simulations.
Our research budget supports the development of forefront instruments, some of which being dedicated to world-class infrastructures, and codes using high performance computing facilities which will be common to several partners. It will stimulate new research through inter-laboratory project calls (equipment, PhD students, postdocs, innovative projects and invited researchers). 20 PhD positions will be sponsored along the project, some being shared with industrial partners.
The projects already supported are presented here.
Research topics: 3 areas, 6 themes, 3 work-packages
Plasmas studied within PLAS@PAR may be separated into 4 categories: astrophysical and natural plasmas, laboratory plasmas, low temperature plasmas, and high temperature plasmas.
However, to avoid over-specialization and to stimulate synergies and collaborations, we have emphasized on the common fundamental processes and placed numerical simulation at the core of the project.
Hence, a series of universal fundamental phenomena are of primary importance in plasma science. They are the building blocks of our disciplines. Their study in a broad range of conditions and at the interface between domains will lead to new discoveries and promote new ways of teaching plasma physics.
PLAS@PAR is an interdisciplinary cluster of excellence at the frontiers of Physics, Astrophysics, Physical Chemistry and Engineering Science with strong links with Applied Mathematics and Computer Science.
It is focused on the following areas:
- I. Low-density plasmas in the Earth’s magnetosphere,
- II. Moderate-density plasmas: low-temperature laboratory plasmas, stellar atmospheres and tokamaks
- III. High-density plasmas: stellar interiors and laser-induced plasmas.
The project covers six themes at the forefront of plasma research:
- i. Turbulence, instabilities and energy transport
- ii. Magnetic reconnection
- ii. Shocks
- iv. Matter under extreme conditions
- v. Plasmas in molecular gases
- vi. Interaction of plasmas with solids and liquids
Work packages - WPWP1: Fundamental processes in plasmas: mostly theory and simulation oriented, the studies will address the challenging question of particle acceleration at very high energy, the interaction of radiation at extreme intensity with matter, up to the relativistic regime, the stability of plasma devices from nuclear fusion up to industrial processes. This theoretical work will be stimulated by ambitious experiments that explore matter under extreme conditions, by observations of natural plasmas, and by small-scale laboratory experiments in poorly explored territories such as plasmas in liquids.
WP2: Developing the numerical factory: new simulation codes will be developed, with the help of the mathematicians participating in PLAS@PAR, to understand the self-consistent coupling between macroscopic fluid behaviour and microscopic kinetics and dynamics. Initially, the existing codes from the different participants will be merged and consolidated. The longer-term objective is to produce an integrated plasma model at different scales, including complex chemistries. A major output will be the release of a suite of well-documented public-domain codes.
WP3: Innovative experiments and observations: laboratory experiments and natural plasma observations will be used to increase our knowledge and to benchmark theory and simulations. Many of the experiments will be carried out on large-scale international installations (tokamaks, Z pinches, lasers, heavy-ion beams) that allow matter under extreme conditions to be produced and observed. In the domain of low-temperature laboratory plasmas, new plasma sources will be proposed to face the challenges imposed by nanotechnologies, environment, or medicine. The link between observations and laboratory experiments will be emphasized, and innovative instrumentation will be encouraged.