California State at San Marcos
Professor Michael Burin
Stewart Zweben and Chris Brunkhorst have provided assistance to Professor Michael Burin and his students at Cal State San Marcos (CSUSM) for their experiment on the 'plasma ball' (Fig. 1). Professor Burin is the PI of a three-year grant to develop an improved understanding of the origin and dynamics of the spoke-like filamentary structures seen in these RF-driven high pressure plasmas. Even though these plasma balls are widely sold as science ‘toys’, the plasma is not well understood. This project is an extension of the the RF-driven plasma ball apparatus first built at PPPL in 2009. Towards this end two mass flow controllers are on loan to CSUSM in order to aid experiments to tightly control the partial pressure of trace gases, such as Xenon, which are apparently critical for the formation of the filaments. A sophisticated Trek programmable high voltage (HV) supply was also loaned to CSUSM in order to investigate the dependence of the filament formation and motion on the frequency and magnitude of the RF source. A PPPL electrical engineer, Chris Brunkhorst, visited CSUSM for a week to help safely install and test this high voltage supply. Dr. Stewart Zweben and Alex Nagy visited CSUSM in April 2013 to assist with initial operation and experiments. CSUSM is a Hispanic Serving Institution.
Photograph of Professor Burin and California State at San Marcos students with the Plasma Ball Experiment.