This exam is present in the following Optional Group


To illustrate essential elements of plasma physics, with particular emphasis on the so-called collective behaviour. To provide the basis for the understanding of the main issues concerning plasma applications (notably, fusion energy) as well as the study of space plasmas. To describe and discuss the different models/ approximations employed in the study of plasmas [kinetic, (magneto-)hydrodynamics, single fluid and multi-fluid].




1. Definition of plasma. Natural and artificial plasmas. Saha's equation. Debye shielding and quasi-neutrality, plasma oscillations. 2. Motion of charged particles in assigned electric and magnetic fields. Drifts. Magnetic mirrors. 3. Coulomb collisions. Mean-paths, collision frequencies, energy exchange frequencies. Electrical resistivity. 4. Emission of radiation (cyclotron radiation and bremsstrahlung). 5. Plasmas and controlled thermonuclear fusion. Fusion reactions. Lawson criterion. 6. From Boltzmann equation to magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). 7. Simple applications of MHD. 8. Waves in plasmas: magnetic, electric and electromagnetic (e.m.)waves. Propagation and cut-off. Collisional absorption of e.m. waves in an unmagnetized plasma. Laser-matter interaction. 9. MHD equilibrium. The pinch. 10. Introduction to inertial confinement fusion: principles, schemes, issues. 11. Introduction to magnetic fusion devices. The Tokamak: main scientific and technological issues.

Adopted texts

Lecture notes available on the teacher’s webpage and on the cours e-learning page


A useful (but more advanced reference text): R. J. Goldstone and P. H. Rutherford, Introduction to Plasma Physics, Taylor & Francis (1995) Another useful text: G. Pucella e S. E. Segre, Fisica dei Plasmi, Zanichelli, Bologna, 2010 (in Italian). A few sections of: S. Atzeni and J. Meyer-ter-Vehn, The Physics of Inertial Fusion, Clarendon-Oxford (2004).


Basic notions of General Physics (in particular: electromagnetism, elements of kinetic theory of gases). Notions (as well as practical abilities) of Calculus.

Study modes

About 60 hours in class, devoted to illustration/discussion of the basis of plasma physics and its applications to nuclear fusion, with many examples and numerical evaluations

Exam modes

Questions to evaluate knowledge and understanding of the main topics of the course, as well as the capability of using appropriate langauge and formalism. The student may also be asked to solve simple excercises or to perform numerical evaluations.

Course sheet
  • Academic year: 2021/2022
  • Curriculum: Particle and Astroparticle Physics (Percorso valido anche fini del conseguimento del titolo multiplo italo-francese-svedese-ungherese) - in lingua inglese
  • Year: First year
  • Semester: Second semester
  • SSD: FIS/01
  • CFU: 6
  • Attività formative affini ed integrative
  • Ambito disciplinare: Attività formative affini o integrative
  • Exercise (Hours): 36
  • Lecture (Hours): 24
  • CFU: 6
  • SSD: FIS/01