In the first of a series of interviews with JPhysD Section Editors, we begin with Peter Bruggeman; Richard and Barbara Nelson Associate Professor at The University of Minnesota and Section Editor of the Low-temperature plasmas and plasma–surface interactions section. Professor Bruggeman’s research focusses on plasma processes for environmental, biomedical and renewable energy technologies. Here, he tells us about his research, what interests him outside of science and what advice he’d give to young scientists.
Q: Which research projects are you and your group currently working on?
We work in the field of plasma science and technology. Our key research interests are in plasma-liquid interaction, plasma kinetics, non-equilibrium chemistry and plasma interaction with living matter. Our group is strongly focused on optical diagnostics of plasmas to investigate the underpinning mechanisms of novel plasma processes. These plasma processes are in the framework of several applications including plasma disinfection, wound healing, environmental remediation and energy applications.
Q: What motivated you to pursue this field of research?
My initial motivation might have been the complexity and multidisciplinary nature of plasma research. This allows me to continuously explore new science and physics and this is what still drives me as a scientist. What is very important is that this is always science with a huge societal benefit. Plasmas have really shaped our world and continue to do so. The key importance of plasma processing in the semiconductor industry is well known but plasmas are currently being explored for novel nanomaterial synthesis, combustion with increased efficiency, wound healing, and as a possible novel therapy in cancer treatment. And these are only a few examples of the many promising exciting applications that are currently investigated in our field.
Q: Where do you think the field is heading?
The current trend in the field of plasma science and technology research is shifting from thermal and low pressure plasmas to high pressure non-equilibrium plasmas. The field has also become considerably more multidisciplinary which has been for me an enriching experience. This evolution is strongly driven by the many novel applications currently investigated with considerable potential in biomedical, material processing and energy. Plasmas will without doubt have a major impact on three great challenges for the future: energy, environment and healthcare.
Q: What interests you outside of science?
European history, classical music and art. If I’d not become a physicist, I probably would have been a historian.
Q: What advice would give to young scientists?
Although I still believe I am a young scientist myself I would advise the following: (1) Try to focus on what you like to do and what you are good at and certainly do not blindly follow the fashion of the day. While it might require more effort to build up your career, it is a much better basis for a successful career in the future. (2) It is important to acknowledge that you cannot be an expert in everything and be open to other ideas and viewpoints however strange they might seem at first. (3) Collaborate as much as possible, particularly with colleagues from other research fields. It is an excellent and enjoyable way of exploring new fields of research.
Q: What current problem facing humanity would you like science to provide a solution to?
Finding a sustainable solution to the challenges in energy, healthcare and the environment associated with the continuous growth in the world’s population.
Read a selection Professor Bruggeman’s work published in JPhysD
Gas flow characteristics of a time modulated APPJ: the effect of gas heating on flow dynamics S Zhang et al 2015 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 48 015203
In situ absolute air, O3 and NO densities in the effluent of a cold RF argon atmospheric pressure plasma jet obtained by molecular beam mass spectrometry B T J van Ham et al 2014 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 47 224013
Atmospheric pressure discharge filaments and microplasmas: physics, chemistry and diagnostics Peter Bruggeman and Ronny Brandenburg 2013 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 46 464001
Special issue: diagnostics of atmospheric pressure microplasmas Peter Bruggeman et al 2013 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 46 460301
Antibacterial plasma at safe levels for skin cells B K H L Boekema et al 2013 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 46 422001
Mechanisms of bacterial inactivation in the liquid phase induced by a remote RF cold atmospheric pressure plasma jet C A J van Gils et al 2013 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 46 175203
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Image: Copyright Peter Bruggeman, used with permission.
Categories: Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics