Sander Nijdam

Extreme non-equilibrium plasmas

We investigate the physics and applications of fast, transient discharges and the inception stages of gas discharges. The primary example of such a discharge for us is a streamer discharge, a fast-moving ionization wave through a gas. They occur in nature with lightning and sprites but also have many technological applications.

Controlling nanosecond-scale discharges

Our primary scientific topics are fast, transient discharges and the inception stages of gas discharges. Such discharges are always very far from equilibrium which makes them challenging to understand. This interest has started with one example of such discharges, namely streamer discharges, but in recent years has expanded to a larger range of extreme non-equilibrium discharges.

Still, streamer discharges our scientific focal point. Streamer discharges are the first stages of discharges like sparks and arcs. They can pierce through regions with relatively low electric field and have tree-like shapes. In nature they occur as the first stage of lightning and as so-called sprites and other discharges high above thunderclouds.

We are not limited to one application of streamers and related non-equilibrium discharges. The diversity of applications of such discharges makes this field of science interesting and ensures future-proof funding possibilities, both from fundamental scientific viewpoint as from the utilization viewpoint.