Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 08/31/2018

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

John Arlin Goree


A dusty plasma is a mixture of electrons, ions, neutral gas atoms, and small particles of solid matter (dust). In a dusty plasma produced in the laboratory, dust particles gain a large electric charge from the other charged species, so that their interparticle interactions can be very strong. Frequently, the average interparticle potential energy is higher than the thermal kinetic energy of the dust particles, and in this case, they constitute a strongly coupled plasma. As with all strongly coupled plasmas, the dust particles can behave like typical solids or liquids.

In this thesis, I report the results of dusty plasma experiments that are focused on the behavior of liquids. I use a so-called two-dimensional (2D) dusty plasma that consists of only a single horizontal layer of dust particles. Tracking each particle with video microscopy and image analysis methods allows the calculation of important liquid properties, like the viscosity coefficient.

In Chapter 2, I describe an improved laser heating method for producing liquid-like conditions in a 2D dusty plasma. Two laser beams are scanned across the dust layer in a new pattern to increase the kinetic energy of the particles and melt the ground state crystalline lattice. The new scanning pattern improves the randomness of the resulting particle motion so that it more closely resembles that of a liquid in a thermal equilibrium.

In Chapter 3, I report a viscosity measurement in a dusty plasma that is unaffected by the complicating effects of temperature nonuniformities and shear thinning. This measurement is enabled by an addition to my experimental apparatus that I also detail here. I find the viscosity to be significantly higher than in previous measurements, which I attribute to the avoidance of shear thinning.

In Chapter 4, I present measurements of viscosity using the Green-Kubo method, and compare the results to those of my previous measurement. I find that the two methods yield viscosity values that differ by about 60%, over the entire temperature range attained in the experiment. Possible sources of this difference are evaluated.

Finally, in Chapter 5, I report the first experimental confirmation of a theoretical expression describing the decay of time autocorrelation functions. This theoretical expression fits experimentally calculated autocorrelation functions within error bars, especially at short times when a simple exponential decay fails. I also propose an intuitive description wherein an observed transition in the autocorrelation function is due to the onset of collisional scattering.


autocorrelation, complex plasma, dusty plasma, laser heating, radio frequency, viscosity


xiii, 75 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 70-75).


Copyright © 2017 Zachary Owen Haralson

Available for download on Friday, August 31, 2018

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Physics Commons