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Plasma Physics

Code: FIS3007     Acronym: FIS3007

Classification Keyword

Instance: 2019/2020 - 2S

Active? Yes
Responsible unit: Department of Engineering Physics
Course/CS Responsible: Master's Degree in Physical Engineering

Cycles of Study/Courses

Acronym No. of Students Study Plan Curricular Years Credits UCN Credits ECTS Contact hours Total Time
MI:EF 24 study plan from 2017/18 3 - 6 56 162

Teaching Staff - Responsibilities

Teacher Responsibility
Carlos Daniel Diogo Matias Pintassilgo
Paulo Manuel de Araújo Sá

Teaching - Hours

Lectures: 2,00
Recitations: 2,00
Type Teacher Classes Hour
Lectures Totals 1 2,00
Carlos Daniel Diogo Matias Pintassilgo 1,00
Paulo Manuel de Araújo Sá 1,00
Recitations Totals 1 2,00
Paulo Manuel de Araújo Sá 1,00
Carlos Daniel Diogo Matias Pintassilgo 1,00
Mais informaçõesLast updated on 2020-02-04.

Fields changed: Teaching methods and learning activities, Fórmula de cálculo da classificação final, Provas e trabalhos especiais, Bibliografia Complementar, Obtenção de frequência, Programa, Bibliografia Obrigatória, Melhoria de classificação

Teaching language

Suitable for English-speaking students


An introduction to Plasma Physics will be given in this curricular unit. Its main goal is to present to the
student the basic properties of plasmas. The student can then apply these fundamental concepts to other
fields of plasma physics such as, thermonuclear fusion and plasma discharges.
This curricular unit (CU) presents the fundamentals of plasma physics, in a step by step methodology. These
issues are presented in a comprehensive and coherent logic sequence. In this curricular unit application
problems and examples are presented, together with the appropriate tools to solve them.

It is also the objectives of this curricular unit that students:
- develop reasoning and acquire skills in autonomous and critical problem solving;
- acquire a continuous work discipline throughout the semester;
- be respectful of ethical values such as mutual respect and honesty.

Learning outcomes and competences

The teaching / learning process is focused on the student’s work, together with monitoring of the
development and acquisition of knowledge and skills by the student.
More to the point, the present curricular unit adopts a teaching methodology that privileges the acquisition
of specialized and specific competencies that qualify the student for the competent exercise of his/her skills
on research, in particular in what concerns plasma physics.

Working method


Pre-requirements (prior knowledge) and co-requirements (common knowledge)

Newtonian mechanics; thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; electromagnetism and electrodynamics; waves.


1-Definition of plasma. Debye shielding. Criteria for the definition of plasma. Debye length. Plasma frequency. Plasmas in nature. Some applications of plasma physics.
2-Charged particle motion in electromagnetic fields.
3-Elements of plasma kinetic theory. Phase space. Distribution function. Average values of a physical quantity. The equilibrium state. Boltzmann and Vlasov equations.
4-Macroscopic transport equations.
5- Macroscopic equations fora conducting fluid. Electrodynamic equations for conducting fluid. Simplified MHD equations.
6-Waves in cold plasmas. Wave propagation in isotropic electron plasmas and in magnetized cold plasmas.
7-Plasma conductivity and diffusion.
8-Introduction to gas discharges physics.

Mandatory literature

Bittencourt J. A.; Fundamentals of plasma physics. ISBN: 0-387-20975-1
Inan Umran S.; Principles of plasma physics for engineers and scientists. ISBN: 978-0-521-19372-6
Francis F. Chen; Introduction to plasma physics and controlled fusion. ISBN: 0-306-41332-9 (V. 1)

Complementary Bibliography

Chen, Francis F.; Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion , Springer, 2016. ISBN: 978-3319223087 (3rd ed. )

Teaching methods and learning activities

Theoretical lectures (TEORICAS): complete discussion of the subjects and exercise solving of main basis cases.

Exercise classes (TEÓRICO-PRÁTICAS): exercise solving under the supervision of the teacher of several exercises.


Evaluation Type

Distributed evaluation with final exam

Assessment Components

Designation Weight (%)
Exame 60,00
Participação presencial 0,00
Trabalho escrito 40,00
Total: 100,00

Amount of time allocated to each course unit

Designation Time (hours)
Estudo autónomo 76,00
Frequência das aulas 56,00
Trabalho escrito 30,00
Total: 162,00

Eligibility for exams

► Any student will be admitted to the final examination of the course unit if:
- is exempt from attendance at the course unit;

- has not exceeded the limit of absences to practical classes;

- has carried out the distributed evaluation.

♦ TP classes (theoretical-practical) have attendance control;

♦ In T classes (theoretical) there will be no attendance control.

NOTE: For the sake of normalization, the number of practical classes is considered as twelve (12), which means that the maximum number of absences allowed is three (3).

Calculation formula of final grade

The course final mark is obtained as the sum between the marks obtained in EF and the value obtained in AD with 40% and EF with of 60% according to the formula given below:

CF = EF * 0.60 + AD * 0.40


CF - Final Mark (0 to 20 points)
EF - Final Exam (0 to 20 points)
AD - Overall evaluation of individual solving of two problems + the presentation (by a group of 3 students) of a scientific article (previously known) to the class.

Examinations or Special Assignments

A- EVALUATION TEST (T): to be held in the classroom. Individual resolution of 2 problems, on a topic of a taught subject. The problem is handed to the teacher.

B- PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF A SCIENTIFIC PAPER (ADA): presentation, by a group of 3 students, of an article previously provided. The reading and study of the article will be done outside the classroom and the presentation, to the colleagues and teachers, should be done using the "PowerPoint", with a maximum time of 20 minutes for each presentation.

Special assessment (TE, DA, ...)

Exam for 20 values.

Classification improvement

Through Final Examination of the Season of Appeal.
The final classification will be calculated as follows: CF = MAX (CFN, RAD, R) where CFN is the final classification in the normal season, RAD the final classification of the appeal season, including AD, and R the classification in the final exam of the appeal period (from 0 to 20 values, not including the AD).


Due to the current COVID 19 situation, the continuous assessment has been modified, being now composed by two individual problems the students must solve before the examination period. Both problems correspond to a total of 5 (five) out of 20 in the final mark in the normal season

- In addition to the academic times, it is estimated that students dedicate a period of time between 5 to 8 hours per week to the study of the "Physics Physics" course.

- Student contact service with the teachers outside lectures is provided through a direct combination, via e-mail or directly, between the interested student(s) and teachers.

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