Robert L. Merlino
The University of Iowa, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Dusty Plasmas in the Laboratory and Space

Much of the solid matter in the universe is in the form of dust particles (nanometer to micrometer-sized) which coexist with the ionized gaseous component. This state of matter, which is known as a dusty plasma, occurs in a wide variety of environments both cosmic and terrestrial, ranging from planetary ring systems, cometary magnetospheres, the interstellar medium, planetary nebulae as well as in noctilucent clouds in the earth's mesospheric region. Dust is also an unwanted component of plasmas used for semiconductor manufacturing, fusion plasmas and in plasmas near orbiting spacecraft. The dust acquires a net electrical charge by collecting electrons and ions from the plasma or by secondary emission or photoelectron emission if exposed to UV radiation. This talk will focus on the basic physics of dusty plasmas with particular emphasis on laboratory results. One of the intriguing aspects of dusty plasmas is the observation that under some circumstances the dust grains arrange themselves into regular lattice-like structures called Coulomb crystals. Examples of these novel states of matter will be presented.