Professorship Lecture/Reception – Professor Mark J. Kushner
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Low Temperature Plasmas: Fundamental Physics, Innovative Technologies, Future Societal Benefit
Low temperature plasmas (LTPs), or partially ionized gases, share an enviable characteristic with solid state electronic devices – development of society benefiting technologies based on advances in fundamental science. Although the history of LTPs is filled with successes based on Edisonian empiricism, dating to the first plasma based patent for the ozonizer by Werner von Siemens in 1857, it is also true that advances in the modeling and diagnostics knowledge base have accelerated development of stunningly impactful technologies. One could argue that at one extreme, the entire worldwide information technology infrastructure is enabled by microelectronics fabrication techniques based on LTPs – and at the other extreme, ultra-wideband communication through geosynchronous satellites is made possible by positioning enabled by plasma thrusters. A case study of one thread of this success track, the development of plasmas for displays and materials processing, will be shared from the perspective of physics based computer modeling. State-of-the-art technologies, including plasma etching reactors for microelectronics fabrication and plasma-display-panels, are now designed based on computer modeling. The challenge is how to leverage those successes to speed the development of future technologies, such as for health care and fuel efficient combustion. Achieving these successes will require an interoperability of interdisciplinary knowledge-bases that have not yet been demonstrated but may be on the horizon.
An international leader in his field, Professor Kushner is the inaugural Director of the Michigan Institute for Plasma Science and Engineering (MIPSE). His research in low temperature plasma science and engineering addresses fundamental transport and reaction chemistry of partially ionized gases and their application to technology. He is also head of the Computational Plasma Science and Engineering Group (CPSEG), which develops computer simulations of low temperature plasmas and technologically important devices which use low temperature plasmas. Some of the recent areas of emphasis are lasers, microelectronics fabrication, multi-phase plasmas, polymer treatments and biocompatible materials.
Prof. Kushner received a B.A. in astronomy and a B.S. in nuclear engineering from UCLA, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology. He served on the technical staffs of Sandia National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory before joining Spectra Technology, where he was director of electron, atomic and molecular physics. In 1986, Kushner moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was the Founder Professor of Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His administrative roles included Assistant Dean of Academic Programs and Associate Dean for Administrative Affairs in the College of Engineering, Interim Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Interim Head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Most recently he was Dean of Engineering and the Melsa Professor of Engineering at Iowa State University.
He has published more than 230 journal articles, made more than 350 contributed presentations and delivered more than 200 invited conference talks and seminars on topics related to plasma materials processing, lasers, lighting sources and pulse power plasmas. He is Editor-in-Chief of Plasma Sources Science and Technology. Kushner has received numerous honors and awards, including the Semiconductor Research Corporation Technical Excellence Award, the Tegal Thinker Award for Plasma Etch Technology, the AVS Plasma Science and Technology Award, the IEEE Plasma Science and Applications Award, and the Semiconductor Industry Association University Researcher Award.. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, IEEE, the Optical Society of America, the American Vacuum Society, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, and the Institute of Physics.