Studying Complex Plasmas Through Computational Modeling




Banka, Rahul

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Plasma is an ionized gas comprised of ions, electrons, and neutral gas atoms. When solid particles, typically ranging from nanometer to micrometer in size, are immersed in plasma, a complex plasma is created. Complex plasmas are ubiquitous as they can be found in various astrophysical and terrestrial contexts such as planetary rings, fusion reactors, and plasma etchers. While much work has been done experimentally to observe and understand complex plasmas, it is often difficult to have a complete view of the underlying physics due to the small scales at which plasma interactions occur. As such, computational models are utilized to simulate complex plasmas. This thesis presents three such models. First, a model that simulates crystalline structures formed in plasma is described and used to study the effects of experimental conditions on the stability of these structures. Next, a model used to track dust trajectories in fusion plasmas is described, and the adaptations made to validate its results against an accepted model. Lastly, a model simulating the dynamics of ions in a sheath electric field is utilized to study the characteristics of an ion wake formed downstream of a dust grain.