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Plasma Physics 2

Module PH2036

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of SS 2022 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
SS 2022SS 2021SS 2020SS 2019SS 2018SS 2017SS 2014SS 2011

Basic Information

PH2036 is a semester module in German or English language at Master’s level which is offered in summer semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Specific catalogue of special courses for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics
  • Specific catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for condensed matter physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Biophysics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 60 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2036 is Ulrich Stroth.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


This module gives an introduction into plasma physics with numerous examples of natural phenomena and technical applications. Electrostatic and electro-magnetic waves in plasmas will be studied in detail. Their multiple different applications in plasma diagnostics and heating will be described and non-linear effects such as shock fronts and solitons are introduced. Following an introduction into the basics of kinetic theory the fluid equations will be derived and further applications of kinetic theory will be discussed. This includes transport processes, the concept of collision times and the evolution of ambipolar electric fields.

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of this module the student is able to:

  • explain the propagation of electromagnetic waves in plasmas as well as their main applications in plasma heating and diagnostics
  • describe the influence of non-linarities on the dynamics of waves
  • Illustrate the collision processes of charges particles in plasmas and understand the main parameter dependencies of collision times,
  • explain the different theoretical approaches to plasma physics and define the regimes for the validity of their application,
  • describe the concept of ambipolar electric fields and ambipolar transport.


No preconditions in addition to the requirements for the Master’s program in Physics.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

This module consists of a lecture and an exercise course.

In the lectures the learning content, which covers the theoretical basics and the according experimental realizations, is presented in form of an oral talk and blackboard work. Vivid examples and applications of the described topics will be explained additionally with a beamer presentation. The universal concepts of plasma physics are demonstrated especially with cross references between the different topics. It is emphasized to involve the students into interactive discussions on the contents learned. The course materials contain hyperlinks to original publications in order to encourage the students to perform literature research independently and to deepen the contents learned autonomously with the found, advanced literature.

In the exercise the learning content is deepened and exercised using problem examples and state of the art programs for system analysis. Thus the students are able to explain and apply the learned physics knowledge independently.


Oral talk, beamer presentation, blackboard work, exercise sheets, exercises and tutor classes, discussions, accompanying website, additional literature.


  • U. Stroth: Plasmaphysik: Phänomene, Grundlagen, Anwendungen, Springer Spektrum, (2018)
  • R.J. Goldston & P.H. Rutherford: Introduction to Plasma physics, Routledge, (1995)
  • T.J.M. Boyd & J.J. Sanderson: The Physics of Plasmas, Cambridge University Press, (2003)
  • F.F. Chen: Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, Springer, (2016)
  • T.H. Stix: Waves in Plasmas, American Institute of Physics, (1992)

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of about 20 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions and discussions on sketches and simple equations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Sketch and explain the dispersion relations of waves in a magnetized plasma.
  • Describe the applications of electromagnetic waves in plasma physics.
  • Write down the Boltzmann equation and explain the single terms.
  • How does it come to ambipolar diffusion in plasmas?

Participation in the tutorials is strongly recommended since the exercises prepare for the problems of the exam and rehearse the specific competencies.

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester.

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