Plasma Physics Group

There can be no doubt that plasmas matter.

More than 99% of material in the universe is ionized; on Earth, plasmas are used to produce most of our artificial light, they are essential to the semiconductor manufacturing industry and they are at the heart of the quest for commercial energy from nuclear fusion.

Plasmas are ionized gases in which long-range electrical and magnetic interactions involving charged particles dominate over collisions between neutral species. Wide ranges of particle energies and particle densities are involved: from the tenuous interstellar medium to dense ablation plumes around the focal spots of high power, short-pulse lasers; from around a hundred million kelvin associated with nuclear fusion reactions to a few thousand kelvin in maintaining the electrical conduction in gases. Plasma Physics embraces all of these.

Specific research areas include the following:

  • astrophysics and space physics including intergalactic and interstellar media, solar-terrestrial and magneto/iono-spheric plasmas
  • electrical discharges for lamps and lighting
  • non-thermal plasmas for physical and chemical processing and analysis of materials
  • laser-plasma interactions
  • controlled thermonuclear fusion

The Plasma Physics Group was formed in 1968, since when it has been actively promoting the study of plasmas throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and initiatives across the broad range of plasmas in science and engineering. The Group awards student bursaries to facilitate attendance at its annual conference and other plasma related meetings including the UK Plasma Technology Training School. In conjunction with the UKAEA the Group each year offers a prize for the best thesis in plasma physics submitted at a UK or Irish university.

The activities of the Group are co-ordinated on matters of common interest with the Division of Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Plasma Physics, the Surface Science and Technology Division and other learned or professional bodies such as the Royal Astronomical Society and the S3 Group of the IEE.

Spring Plasma Conference
The Spring Plasma Conference, held under the auspices of the Institute of Physics, is wide-ranging, covering all aspects of plasma physics:

  • Fusion research (magnetic and inertial confinement)
  • Solar and planetary plasmas
  • Technological plasmas - (dusty plasmas, processing plasmas, novel plasma devices, control and monitoring of plasma parameters)
  • Laser-plasma interactions
  • Plasma diagnostics

Technology Plasma Workshop (TPW)
The Technological Plasma Workshop (TPW) is principally a UK-based international forum in science and technology of plasmas and gas discharges. Technological plasmas have found new applications in diverse fields ranging from nano-science, through biomedicine and environment, to space exploration. They offer major collaboration opportunities for academic and industrial communities and exciting career prospects for younger scientists and engineers. To support a full realisation of these opportunities, TPW aims to foster academic-industry collaboration and to engage young plasma scientists with a scientific programme anchored by leading plasma scientists. Further details can be found at

Group prize

Prizes awarded by the Plasma Physics Group

Group prize 


Plasma Physics Group newsletter


Related information


IOP Groups

How to join a group

All groups are open to all IOP members

Research Student Conference Fund

The Institute of Physics provides financial support to research students to attend international meetings and major national meetings

Group publications

UK Plasma Visions Report

Plasma Visions Report

This report was compiled in order to communicate the breadth of activity and ambition within the plasma science community in the UK, and to inform potential research collaborators, funders and policy makers