Earl Scime

Oleg D. Jefimenko Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Department of Physics and Astronomy135 Willey Street, PO Box 6315West Virginia UniversityMorgantown, WV 26506Office: White Hall 341Phone: (304)293-5125Email: escimeATwvu.edu


Research Interests: fusion energy, space plasma physics, industrial plasma physics, plasma diagnostics, neurosciences imaging, magnetic reconnection, robotics, STEM education.

The primary theme of the WVU plasma physics group is space-relevant plasma physics. My group has a number of experimental laboratory, experimental space, and theoretical research projects. The core of our experimental laboratory plasma physics program is a high-density helicon plasma source coupled to a modular, heavily diagnosed experimental facility designed to explore kinetic scale phenomena, the PHAse Space Mapping (PHASMA) experiment. The ion velocity distribution functions in argon plasmas are measured with a non-invasive, three-dimensional laser induced fluorescence diagnostic. Electron velocity distribution functions are measured with three-dimensional Thomson Scattering. Current research projects include the investigation of ion and electron energization during magnetic reconnection with a strong guide field, the study of spontaneously forming double layers in expanding plasmas, the study of magnetized plasma sheaths for obliquely incident magnetic fields, the study of slow waves in the edge of helicon sources, the development of new laser induced fluorescence schemes for argon and helium ions using tunable diode lasers, and the development of two-photon LIF schemes for the direct measurement of neutral hydrogen densities in fusion plasmas and plasma thrusters.

In collaboration with the Southwest Research Institute, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of Southern California, and MIT, we participated in the launch of the world's first transmission grating based neutral atom imager on the IMAGE spacecraft in March 2000. This instrument directly detected and imaged neutral atoms emitted from the Earth's magnetosphere. With a single image, a neutral-atom "camera" can provide a detailed picture of the spatial distribution of the plasma trapped in the Earth's magnetosphere. The IMAGE mission has now ended and we have moved on to the TWINS mission. TWINS consists of two similar neutral atom cameras, each on different spacecraft. New plasma instruments, intended for flight on CubeSats are also under development.