Ionized Gases

An artist's illustration of the Deep Space 1 spacecraft from behind that shows the blue plasma tail from the ion propulsion system that moves the craft toward a distant galaxy.

Artist's conception of the New Millennium Deep Space 1 spacecraft. (Courtesy of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA. Image is in the public domain.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2014



Cite This Course

Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course highlights the properties and behavior of low-temperature plasmas in relation to energy conversion, plasma propulsion, and gas lasers. The course includes material on the equilibrium (energy states, statistical mechanics, and relationship to thermodynamics) and kinetic theory of ionized gases (motion of charged particles, distribution function, collisions, characteristic lengths and times, cross sections, and transport properties). In addition, the course discusses gas surface interactions (thermionic emission, sheaths, and probe theory) and radiation in plasmas and diagnostics.

Related Content

Manuel Martinez-Sanchez, and Paulo Lozano. 16.55 Ionized Gases. Fall 2014. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

For more information about using these materials and the Creative Commons license, see our Terms of Use.