A common issue in the study of laboratory plasma is the perturbative nature of electric probes, such as the Langmuir probe, commonly used to obtain the discharge characteristics. Dusty plasma systems offer an alternative approach, where the dynamical processes within the plasma can be studied by optically tracking the motion of individual dust grains suspended in the discharge. Due to their mesoscopic size, the dust particles are less perturbative than a typical probe and more sensitive to changes in the plasma environment. Therefore, dusty plasmas provide a powerful diagnostics tool for the investigation of various phenomena, including plasma-material interactions, electric field mapping, plasma sheath characteristics, etc.
The goal of this research project is to develop a set of dust diagnostics techniques, which will be employed in the characterization of new discharge devices, such as CASPER Cell 3 shown below.