A dusty plasma is is a system of particles suspended in a background plasma. Sometimes called a complex plasma, the particles are typically tens of micrometers or smaller and are charged. This results in a variety of fascinating phenomena that can be observed with a video camera or even the naked eye. Dusty plasmas are found in space (comets, planetary rings), are a concern in fusion plasmas, and are considered an important impurity that must be controlled in plasma processing.
Recent work is focused on the development of a novel dust dropper to control the insertion of dust particles in the system. This new addition to the experiment will aid the study of dust cloud formation and of instabilities in the system.
The Dusty Plasma Experiment (DPX) setup consists of an argon DC glow discharge, two independently controlled power supplies for plasma control, and silica dust particles. Dust clouds are typically formed beneath the anode in a region illuminated by a vertically oriented green laser line.