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Plasma Physics

Plasma exists in a mixed form of electrons, positive ions and neutral atoms or molecules and plays an important role in many processes; from astrophysical solar flares to nuclear fusion devices for energy applications. There is a strong research interest both in theory and experiment to understand how the plasma energy is transferred into other forms and how plasma behaves in different environments. Investigating these processes under extreme conditions in a table-top setting has become feasible due to the availability of high-power lasers.

In this collection we highlight a selection of recent experimental and theoretical research papers published on this multidisciplinary topic in Nature Communications. These articles feature research on fundamental plasma processes that are relevant to astrophysical events, energy transfer from laser to the particles during their acceleration, material development for plasma confinement and nuclear reactions in plasma fusion devices. This collection showcases the variety of research that different communities can bring together to better understand the ubiquitous processes in plasma.

High intensity light with a non-zero orbital angular momentum could aid the development of laser-wakefield particle accelerators. Here, the authors theoretically show that stimulated Raman backscattering in plasmas can generate and amplify orbital angular momentum lasers to petawatt intensities.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Charge screening dominates the behaviour of high-energy plasmas, which exist in stars and possibly in future fusion technology. Here, the authors describe a theoretical framework for charge screening that goes beyond the conventional model and demonstrate its importance in analysing experimental data.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

The effect of dense plasma environment on the energy levels of an ion is usually described in terms of a lowering of its continuum level. Here the authors present an isochoric-heating experiment to measure and compare continuum lowering in single-species and mixture plasmas to provide insights for models.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications