Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2022-08-01, 13:51 authored by Adam Robert PatelAdam Robert Patel

Constructive elastic microwave scattering, or, historically, coherent microwave scattering (CMS), refers to the inference of small plasma object characteristics via in-phase electromagnetic scattering – and has become a valuable technique in applications ranging from photoionization and electron-loss rate measurements to trace species detection, gaseous mixture and reaction characterization, molecular spectroscopy, and standoff measurement of local vector magnetic fields in gases through magnetically-induced depolarization. Notable advantages of the technique include a high sensitivity, good temporal resolution, low shot noise, non-intrusive probing, species-selectivity when coupled with resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization (REMPI), single-shot acquisition, and the capability of time gating due to continuous scanning.

Originally, the diagnostic was used for the measurement of electron total populations and number densities in collisional, weakly-ionized, and unmagnetized small plasma objects – so called collisional scattering. However, despite increased interest in recent years, the technique’s applicability to collisionless plasmas has remained relatively unexplored. This dissertation intends to expand upon the theoretical, mathematical, and experimental basis for CMS and demonstrate the constructive Thomson & Rayleigh scattering regimes for the first time. Furthermore, this work seeks to explore other novel and relevant capabilities of CMS including electron momentum-transfer collision frequency measurements via scattered phase information and spatially-resolved electron number characterizations of elongated plasma filament structures.

This dissertation additionally leverages the technique to diagnose microplasmas and situations of particular interest. Primarily, photoionization (PI) – including UV resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization, non-resonant visible PI, and mid-IR tunneling ionization in gaseous media. Such processes bear importance to studies on nonequilibrium plasmas, soft ionization in mass spectrometry, the development of compact particle accelerators, X-ray and deep UV radiation sources, laser-assisted combustion, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, species detection, mixture characterization and spectroscopy, studies on nonlinear beam propagation (filamentation, self-trapping and pulse splitting, dispersion, modulation instabilities), and so on. Finally, the application of CMS to ion thrusters is demonstrated.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Alexey Shashurin

Additional Committee Member 2

Sergey O. Macheret

Additional Committee Member 3

Mikhail N. Slipchenko

Additional Committee Member 4

Weng Cho Chew

Additional Committee Member 5

Mikhail N. Shneider