Helmholtz Research Academy Hesse for FAIR

Atomic and Plasma Physics

Atomic and Plasma Physics

The interdisciplinary research of APPA (Atomic Physics, Plasma Physics, and Applied Research) studies matter under extreme conditions.

This includes enormously high pressures and temperatures as well as extreme electric and magnetic fields, but also the use of particle beams in materials research and medical physics.

Heavy highly charged ions such as those available for experiments only at GSI/FAIR allow the known laws of nature to be tested under the influence of extremely strong electric and magnetic fields, such as those occurring at the surface of neutron stars. Two storage rings are available at GSI/FAIR for such investigations. In addition, novel atomic physics methods are being developed to significantly improve the measurement accuracies. Ultimately, even the heaviest ions in the highest charge states are to be measured in the future down to temperatures near absolute zero at -273 °C and trapped in a trap about the size of an espresso cup. In it, the properties of these ions can be studied with unprecedented precision.

With the PHELIX laser, plasma physics has one of the world's most powerful lasers in operation at GSI/FAIR. In combination with the heavy ion beams, it is possible to generate and study particularly dense plasmas at GSI/FAIR, such as those that occur in the interior of planets and stars. The use of strong laser fields for the development of compact ion accelerators is also one of the research fields in HFHF.

Biophysics and materials research teams are harnessing the effects of ion beams in cells and in solids. In addition to medical applications, they are also investigating, for example, how cells change under cosmic radiation and which materials can best withstand the extreme conditions in space.


Selected projects of this research topic

Atomic and Plasma Physics