A brief history of plasma: from astonishing observations to enabling high tech devices
- André Anders (Leibniz-Institut für Oberflächenmodifizierung e.V. und Universität Leipzig)
Plasma technology is the unsung hero enabling the fabrication of many devices we take for granted such as smart phones, TVs, internet hardware, most of today’s solar panels, low-friction engines, airplane turbines, energy-efficient windows, cutting tools, hip implants, etc. It all started quite humble, with early observations in the 18th century, long before the term “plasma” was coined. Plasma generation and experimental observations were closely related to the development of electrical energy supply and storage. As storage improved and energy increased, it was actually difficult to avoid making plasmas. However, due to their complex nature, understanding, controlling, and using them represents challenges until today. I will provide a brief history of the roots of modern plasma technology and include some recent, rather surprising findings related to plasma instabilities in sputtering magnetrons, one of my fields of research.