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Thomas Pohl

Ultracold neutral plasmas

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  • T. C. Killian
  • ,
  • T Pattard
  • ,
  • T. Pohl
  • J. M. Rost

Ultracold neutral plasmas formed by photoionizing laser-cooled atoms near the ionization threshold have electron temperatures in the 1-1000 K range and ion temperatures from tens of millikelvin to a few Kelvin. They represent a new frontier in the study of neutral plasmas, which traditionally deals with much hotter systems, but they also blur the boundaries of plasma, atomic, condensed matter, and low temperature physics. Modeling these plasmas challenges computational techniques and theories of non-equilibrium systems, so the field has attracted great interest from the theoretical and computational physics communities. By varying laser intensities and wavelengths it is possible to accurately set the initial plasma density and energy, and charged-particle-detection and optical diagnostics allow precise measurements for comparison with theoretical predictions.

Recent experiments using optical probes demonstrated that ions in the plasma equilibrate in a strongly coupled fluid phase. Strongly coupled plasmas, in which the electrical interaction energy between charged particles exceeds the average kinetic energy, reverse the traditional energy hierarchy underlying basic plasma concepts such as Debye screening and hydrodynamics. Equilibration in this regime is of particular interest because it involves the establishment of spatial correlations between particles, and it connects to the physics of the interiors of gas-giant planets and inertial confinement fusion devices. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysics Reports
Volume449
Issue4-5
Pages (from-to)77-130
Number of pages54
ISSN0370-1573
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007

    Research areas

  • ONE-COMPONENT-PLASMA, CRYSTALLIZED ION PLASMAS, STRONGLY COUPLED PLASMAS, MOLECULAR-DYNAMICS SIMULATIONS, DENSE IONIZED MATTER, HIGH-INTENSITY LASER, YUKAWA SYSTEMS, 3-BODY RECOMBINATION, RYDBERG ATOMS, COULOMB CRYSTALLIZATION

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