Atmospheric pressure plasma treatment of water contaminated with PFAS. Image courtesy of Selma Mededovic Thagard

The Center for Plasma Interactions with Complex Interfaces (PICI) is a multi-university and national laboratory collaboration. Supported by the Department of Energy office of Fusion Energy Sciences beginning in August 2019, PICI is performing research on atmospheric pressure plasmas (APPs) as used in environmental, materials processing, chemical conversion, and biotechnology applications.

In all of these applications, APPs are a source of radicals, ions, and photons that beneficially interact with surfaces or interfaces – a transition between the plasma and the material being processed. These interfaces can range from solids that have complex micro-and nano-structures to liquids with an overlying zone of evaporating vapor. The plasma and the complexities of these surfaces have symbiotic and synergistic relationships. The plasma affects the surface by delivering chemical reactivity and activation energy. This is, in fact, the goal of the APP-surface interaction. This chemical reactivity and activation energy transforms the surface in some way – making new materials, chemically processing gases, liquids and solids, or purifying water. The interface also affects the plasma properties, enabling the plasma to respond to the surface properties and to self-organize.

PICI welcomes collaborations with universities, national laboratories, and companies on topics related to APPs, their interactions with surfaces, liquids, and multiple phases.