Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

John A. Goree

First Committee Member

John A Goree

Second Committee Member

Frederick N Skiff

Third Committee Member

Robert L Merlino

Fourth Committee Member

Scott Baalrud

Fifth Committee Member

Claudio Margulis

Sixth Committee Member

James Buchholz


I report experimental and numerical studies of microparticle motion in a dusty plasma. These microparticles are negatively charged and are levitated in a plasma consisting of electrons, ions and neutral gas atoms. The microparticles repel each other, and are confined by the electric fields in the plasma. The neutral gas damps the microparticle motion, and also exerts random forces on them.

I investigate and characterize microparticle motion. In order to do this, I study velocity distributions of microparticles and correlations of their motion. To perform such a study, I develop new experimental and analysis techniques. My thesis consists of four separate projects.

In the first project, the battle between deterministic and random motion of microparticles is investigated. Two particle velocity distributions and correlations have previously studied only in theory. I performed an experiment with a very simple one dimensional (1D) system of two microparticles in a plasma. My study of velocity correlations involves just two microparticles which is the simplest system that allows interactions. A study of such a simple system provides insight into the motions of the microparticles. It allowed for the experimental measurement of two-particle distributions and correlations. For such a system, it is shown that the motion of the microparticles is dominated by deterministic or oscillatory effects.

In the second project, two experiments with just two microparticles are performed to isolate the effects of ion wakes. The two experiments differ in the alignment of the two microparticles: they are aligned either perpendicular or parallel to the ion flow. To have different alignments, the sheath is shaped differently in the two experiments. I demonstrate that microparticle motion is more correlated when they are aligned along the ion flow, rather than perpendicular to the ion flow.

In the third project, I develop a model with some key assumptions to compare with the experiments in the first two projects. My model includes all significant forces: gravity, electrical forces due to curved sheath and interparticle interaction, and gas forces. The model does not agree with both the experiments.

In the last project, I study the non-Gaussian statistics by analyzing data for microparticle motion from an experiment performed under microgranity conditions. Microparticle motion is studied in a very thin region of microparticles in a three dimensional dust cloud. The microparticle velocity distributions exhibit non-Gaussian characteristics.


Correlation function, Dusty Plasma, Ion wake, Non-Gaussian, Velocity distribution


xiii, 86 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 75-86).


Copyright 2014 Amit Kumar Mukhopadhyay

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