Magnetized Dusty Plasmas

The Magnetized Dusty Plasma research project is based at Auburn University with co-PIs at the Univeristy of Iowa and University of California - San Diego and collaborators / partners at universities, national laboratories, and research institutes in the US and around the world.

Current Status (March, 2017):

The MDPX device is operational. We are currently conducting studies on several topics:

  • Magnetization and charging of microparticles
  • Formation of imposed, ordered structures
  • Void and sheath structures in magnetized plasmas
  • Modification of dusty plasma waves in strongly magnetized plasmas


  • The MDPX project is available for collaborative studies and we invite researchers and students to contact us about possible collaborations.
  • Over the last 2 years, we have hosted visitors from Germany, South Korea, and India.
  • Please review the MDPX - Technical Guide for detailed information on developing a collaborative experiment.
  • Contact Prof. Edward Thomas for more information.


In September, 2011, the AUPSL was awarded a National Science Foundation - Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Award for the development of a novel, multi-user, superconducting, high-magnetic field device for the study of magnetized dusty plasmas. This work is an extension of the AUPSL ongoing research on dusty (complex) plasmas. This project is intended to be the leading research facility for the study of dusty (complex) plasmas.

In August, 2013, the AUPSL was awarded three-year funding from both Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation for the startup and operations of the Magnetized Dusty Plasma Experiment (MDPX).

The MDPX superconducting magnet system was delivered to Auburn University on February 24, 2014. Commissioning of the magnet took place between April and August, 2014.

More intormation on the development and initial operations of MDPX can be found here.


Department of Energy
Grant Number: DE - SC0010485
Total project cost: $750,000 (operations support)
Operations funding: Aug. 15, 2013 to Aug. 14, 2016

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Grant Number: 1301881
Total award: $15,000 (student support)
Construction funding: Aug. 1, 2013 to Jul. 31, 2016

National Science Foundation (NSF) - Major Research Instrumentation (MRI)
Grant Number: 1126067
Total project cost: $2.1 million
Construction funding: Sept. 1, 2011 to Aug. 31, 2014

Cost sharing provided by Auburn University:

  • Physics Department
  • College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM)
  • Office of the Vice President for Research

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or Department of Energy.

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