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Plasma Science & Engineering

Plasma science and engineering (PSE) is the discipline investigating fundamental transport and reaction chemistry of partially ionized gases and their application to technologies ranging from lighting sources, lasers and sensors to materials processing, biotechnology, microelectronics fabrication and space sciences. PSE has incredibly broad and strategic impact on national and economic security, and providing societal benefit. Modern microelectronic devices could not be fabricated in the absence of plasma etching, deposition and cleaning processes. Thin film solar cell technologies depend upon plasma deposition to be economically viable. Fabrication of biotechnology devices depends on plasma processes to harden artificial joints and prepare biocompatible surfaces on tissue scaffolding. Interplanetary probes are powered by plasma thrusters. Although focused on applications, PSE is also rich in fundamental science challenges. The recently released National Research Council report Plasma Science: Advancing Knowledge in the National Interest identifies key science challenges, including: a) basic interactions of plasmas with organic materials and living tissue, b) quantifying the behavior of plasmas that contain chaotic and stochastic processes, c) very high power density plasmas and microplasmas, and d) stability of very large area and high pressure plasmas. 


  • Computational and theoretical plasma science
  • Environmental, Biotechnology and Medical applications of plasmas
  • Plasma Fabrication and Plasma Based MEMS Devices
  • Plasma Materials Processing of Microelectronics
  • Plasma photonic sources

ECE Faculty

Yogesh B. Gianchandani


Brian Gilchrist


Mark Kushner


Anatoly Maksimchuk

News Feed

Coordination and collaboration are critical to U.S. leadership in plasma science: a Q&A with the Plasma 2020 Decadal Study co-chair

Plasma science has the potential to speed advances in medicine, energy, electronics and more—including helping us deal with pandemics.

Plasma jet wands could rapidly decontaminate hospital rooms

Room-temperature plasma beams could essentially dissolve away bacteria and viruses.

U-M to become Mount Olympus with ZEUS, the most powerful laser to be built in the U.S.

The three-petawatt system could unlock secrets of the universe, advance cancer treatments, improve security screenings for nuclear threats, and much more.

Beyond Apollo 11: U-M ECE’s role in advancing space exploration

For the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, U-M ECE takes a look back – and a look forward – to how our professors, students, and alums have made their mark on the field.

Prof. Louise Willingale creates extreme plasma conditions using high-intensity laser pulses

Willingale’s research in plasma physics advances many research areas from spectacular astrophysical phenomena to cancer treatment to fusion power.

ECE student Brandon Russell explores space phenomena in a lab

PhD student Brandon Russell is awarded the Rackham International Student Fellowship for his research on magnetic fields in high-energy plasmas, which could help advance the development of clean energy and our understanding of energetic astrophysical phenomena.

Louise Willingale advancing scientific knowledge of plasmas

Using some of the best lasers in the world, Willingale is shedding light on the impact of solar events on Earth.

Mark J. Kushner receives Stephen S. Attwood Award from College of Engineering

The Stephen S. Attwood Award is the most prestigious award that the College of Engineering bestows.

Mark Kushner receives Plasma Chemistry Award for lifetime of achievement

Prof. Kushner is an internationally renowned expert in the area of low-temperature plasma simulation.

Next generation laser plasma accelerator

One of the most promising avenues for achieving new target levels of high peak intensity and high average power in an ultrafast laser system is to turn to fiber lasers.

Stephen Forrest named Peter A. Franken Distinguished University Professor

Prof. Forrest is internationally-renowned and easily one of the most prolific inventors in academia today.

Mark Kushner awarded 2015 IEEE NPSS Charles K. Birdsall Award

Prof. Kushner is an internationally renowned expert in the area of low-temperature plasma simulation.

Cheng Zhang receives Optical Sciences Scholarship

Cheng is a 4th year PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering working in field of micro/nano-scale optical device physics and fabrication.

Jun-Chieh Wang receives Best Oral Paper Award for plasma research

Wang’s research studies the glow-like atmospheric pressure microdischarges created under specialized conditions in laser printers.