Learn the basics of plasma, one of the fundamental states of matter, and the different types of models used to describe it, including fluid and kinetic.

Course Details

Language English
Duration 4 week
Effort 6 hour/week

The first MOOC to teach the basics of plasma physics, now in self-paced mode: from single-particle to kinetic and fluid description of plasmas.

Plasma, the fourth state of matter, is by far the most abundant form of known matter in the universe. Its behavior is very different from that of the states of matter we are usually familiar with. To understand it, a rigorous formalism is required. This is essential not only to explain important astrophysical phenomena, but also to optimize many industrial and medical applications and for achieving fusion energy on Earth. This course, taught by world-renowned experts of the field, gives you the opportunity to acquire a basic knowledge of plasma physics. A rigorous introduction to the plasma state will be followed by a description of the models, from single particles over kinetic to fluid, which can be applied to study its dynamics. You will learn about the waves that can exist in a plasma and how to mathematically describe them, how a plasma can be controlled by magnetic fields, and how its complex and fascinating behavior is simulated using today’s most powerful supercomputers.
This course is the first part of an originally 9 week MOOC introducing plasma physics and its applications. After completing this first part, you will have the prerequisites to enjoy the second part, Plasma Physics: Application, which deals with plasma applications in astrophysics, industry, and nuclear fusion.

What you will learn

  • Basic knowledge of plasma physics and of the different models to describe plasmas

  • An understanding of how to numerically simulate complex plasma dynamics

Course instructors

Alan Howling

Alan Howling obtained a Master in the Science and Application of Electric Plasmas at Oxford University, with his doctoral work at Culham Laboratory. In 1989, he co-founded the Industrial Plasma Applications group with Dr. Hollenstein. He is currently a se…

Prof. Ambrogio Fasoli

After obtaining his PhD at EPFL with a thesis on chaos in plasmas, Prof. Fasoli moved to JET in 1993 to investigate burning plasma physics and participate in the fusion power record experiments. In 1998 he joined the MIT Physics Department as Assistant Pr…

Prof. Christian Theiler

Christian Theiler obtained his master’s degree in physics from ETH Zurich and his PhD from EPFL. After a two-year postdoctoral research position at MIT’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak, he returned to EPFL as a EUROfusion fellow. In July 2016, he has been named Te…

Duccio Testa

Duccio Testa earned his master’s degree in Physics at the University of Torino, Italy, and his PhD at Imperial College, London. After four years as a post-doctoral fellow at MIT, he joined EPFL where he now mostly works on experimental plasma physics, wit…

Jean-Philippe Hogge

Jean-Philippe Hogge received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from EPFL. He spent then two years at MIT as a post-doctoral fellow and is now permanently employed at CRPP. His domain of expertise covers mainly the development of high power microwave s…

Prof. Paolo Ricci

Paolo Ricci earned his master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering at the Politecnico di Torino and his doctoral studies were conducted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He spent two-and-a-half years as a postdoctoral researcher at Dartmouth College. In 2…

Prof. Ivo Furno

Ivo Furno earned his master’s degree in nuclear engineering at the Politecnico di Torino, Italy and his Ph.D. from the EPFL. He was postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Today he’s Adjunct Professor at EPFL leading the Basic Plasma Physic…

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

Free online courses from École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

EPFL is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. The past decade has seen EPFL ascend to the very top of European institutions of science and technology: it is ranked #1 in E…

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