Low-temperature plasmas play an exceptional role for our understanding of nature. At the same time the technological relevance of process plasmas is growing rapidly making them a key technology of the 21st century. The reason is the peculiar properties of energetic charged particles that, upon contact with the plasma-facing surfaces, trigger a number of unique processes and modifications. However, presently plasma-solid interaction is treated mostly empirically, and applications are based on trial and error – an approach that has reached its limits. Both, accurate data and a fundamental understanding are missing.
This Research Collaboration presents a completely novel approach. For the first time, the plasma-solid surface system is considered as a single entity – The Plasma Interface – which allows one to fully capture the complex mutual influences of both components. To this end, experimental and theoretical methods of plasma physics are substantially extended, and new methods are being developed. Moreover, for the first time, powerful experimental tools from surface science are applied to solids in a plasma in situ and in operando. This is complemented by new integrated modeling approaches that combine theoretical concepts from plasma and solid state physics.
This innovative approach to Plasma-Surface Interaction is being developed in an interdisciplinary collaboration of plasma physicists, condensed matter and material scientists, and chemists and promises important progress for a large number of research areas. Research activities on this topic started in 2015 in Kiel, in collaboration with groups from Greifswald University and the INP Greifswald. The results of the collaboration will open a new research field and lead to a fundamental understanding of the plasma-solid interaction. These results will, ultimately, allow for the discovery of novel materials and improvement of technological processes.