Athens programme

The ATHENS programme is aimed at carrying out intensive specialization courses, enabling students to attend one of the courses offered by the university network during 7 days.

The courses take place twice a year, in the sessions of March and November. Applications are made directly at the ATHENS website.

Check the Athens courses offered at IST


This introductory course to Plasma Physics and Technology deals with the basic properties of weakly and fully ionized plasmas, and with the basic concepts and mathematical tools needed to understand such media. The notions acquired provide the necessary background for further studies in the fields of gaseous electronics, fusion plasmas, space plasmas or lasers and laser-plasma interactions.

The course includes theoretical lectures, problem solving classes, as well as laboratory and numerical simulation workshops.    


  • Plasma definition and its occurrence in Nature.
  • Collective effects: Debye shielding and plasma frequency.
  • Applications: magnetic and inertial confinement nuclear fusion, surface and materials processing, gaseous electronics, plasma technologies, reentry plasmas.
  • Motion of charged particles in E and B fields.
  • Fluid description. Fluid drifts. Langmuir and electromagnetic waves.
  • Introduction to kinetic theory: Vlasov and Boltzmann equations. 


Physics, mathematics or engineering degree students; the students should have collected at least 36 ECTS on math and physics courses.

Teaching staff

Vasco Guerra (responsible)
Luís L. Alves
Marta Fajardo
Horácio Fernandes
João Fortunato
Mário Lino da Silva
Nuno Loureiro
Nuno Pinhão
Carlos Silva

Recommended bibliography

  • Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion,Vol. 1
    Francis F. Chen
    Plenum Press
  • Introduction to plasma theory
    Dwight R. Nicholson
    John Wiley & Sons
  • Introduction to plasma physics - lecture notes
    Ian Hutchinson
    MIT openware:

Support material

Lecture 1: fundamental effects

Applications of plasmas I: nuclear fusion

Applications of plasmas II: plasma based technologies

Applications of plasmas III: atmospheric entry plasmas

Lecture 2: single particle motion #1

                 single particle motion #2

Lecture 4: introduction to the kinetic theory of gases

Workshop: hands on a Boltzmann solver

Workshop: electric probes

March 2015 timetable



9:30. Plasmas in Nature. The fundamental effects (Debye shielding, plasma parameter, plasma frequency, ionization degree)

[3h V. Guerra]


14:00. Applications of plasmas I: nuclear fusion (magnetic and inertial confinement)

[1h Carlos Silva + Marta Fajardo]

15:00. Applications of plasmas II: plasma based technologies

[1h Luís L. Alves]

16:00. Applications of plasmas III: atmospheric reentries

[1h Mário Lino da Silva]



9:30. Single particle motion in E and B fields: drifts and magnetic mirrors

[3h N. Pinhão]


14:00. e-lab: Langmuir probes (getting data)

[3h Horácio Fernandes, Carlos Silva, João Fortunato]



9:30 (room P3). Fluid equations, fluid drifts, Langmuir and electromagnetic waves

[3h Nuno Loureiro]


14:00. e-lab: Langmuir probes (data analysis)

[3h Horácio Fernandes, Carlos Silva, João Fortunato]



9:00. Workshop "Hands on a Boltzmann solver"

[3h Luís L. Alves]


14:00 (room E1). Introduction to kinetic theory: Boltzmann and Vlasov equations.

[3h Vasco Guerra]



Preparation to the exam / discussion with the teachers


14:30. Exam, room E2