Plasmas have an extraordinary array of applications with widespread impact and reach, for example, in advanced material processing, green and environmental technologies, medicine, information technologies, nuclear fusion energy and space.
The National Centre for Plasma Science and Technology (NCPST) brings together plasma researchers from across the island of Ireland. Plasmas are a multi-disciplinary field and our research spans many fields including physics, engineering, chemistry, biology and mathematics. The NCPST supports researchers at all levels, fosters an inclusive interdisciplinary research environment, connects to industry and the wider community.
Plasmas are often referred to as the fourth state of matter: solid, liquid, gas, plasma. Plasma is the most abundant state of matter with over 99.9% of the visible universe in the plasma state. Plasmas are ionised gases, where electrons, having been removed from neutral atoms and/or molecules, are freely mobile. The plasma state consists of electrons, ions and usually atoms and molecules. This environment exhibits unique collective phenomena and intriguing atomic and molecular processes. Plasmas operate in a broad parameter regime enabling a vast and diverse range of applications – from nanoelectronics to healthcare.
Visible naturally occurring plasmas in our universe include glows from stars – including the Sun, nebulae, aurorae and lightning. On Earth plasmas have revolutionised modern society – they enable technologies that underpin the manufacturing of computer and electronic chips, solar cells, and material growth and processing. Plasma science and engineering offers opportunities to develop solutions for many modern and emerging global challenges; they are developed for clean sustainable energy through nuclear fusion, potential targeted cancer therapeutics, antimicrobials, and environmental technologies.