Liu Chen

Picture of Liu Chen
Professor, Physics & Astronomy
School of Physical Sciences
PH.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1972
Phone: (949) 824-3530
Fax: (949) 824-2174
University of California, Irvine
4162 Frederick Reines Hall
Mail Code: 4575
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Theoretical and computational plasma physics research on fusion and space plasmas, coherent radiation sources, and plasma turbulence.
Research Abstract
The main goal of theoretical plasma physics research is to understand, at a fundamental level, collective oscillations in essentially collision-free fully ionized gases (plasmas). Such plasmas exist both in the space environment, such as the Earth's Van Allen radiation belt, and in laboratory experiments, such as the Joint European Torus (JET) for controlled thermonuclear fusion research. These collective instabilities not only could explain the observed electromagnetic wave perturbations but also could lead to, due to their symmetry-breaking temporal and spatial scales, anomalously enhanced transport coefficients.

Since the plasmas are typically inhomogeneous and confined by a curved magnetic field, the geometries are complex. The collective instabilities, meanwhile, often evolve into finite amplitudes. We are, thus, dealing with nonlinear wave and particle dynamics in complex systems. Both analytical and computational approaches are necessary in order to provide meaningful insights. Analytical techniques covering a wide range of mathematical physics topics such as complex-variable analysis, WKB approximations, asymptotic-matching analysis, and more, are employed. On the computational physics side, we are developing particle-simulation techniques to describe self-consistent nonlinear wave-particle interactions.
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