The Michigan Engineer News Center

Professor John Foster wins Ronald C. Davidson Award

The award recognizes outstanding plasma physics research by a Physics of Plasmas author.| Short Read
Enlargephoto of Professor John Foster
IMAGE:  Professor John Foster

Professor John Foster of U-M Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences (NERS) has been given the 2020 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics. 

AIP Publishing, in collaboration with the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics, presents the award annually in recognition of outstanding plasma physics research by a Physics of Plasmas author. Foster’s paper, “Plasma-based water purification: Challenges and prospects for the future,” was the journal’s most highly cited paper over the past five years.

The paper covers the need for new, advanced methods of water treatment and presents the promise of plasma-based methods supporting water reuse and the general removal of contaminants of emerging concern. It shares how plasmas interact with water, how purification occurs as well as current modeling and experimental work and the technical hurdles that remain.

“While the interaction of plasma with liquid water poses a range of yet unresolved science questions, it is this very interaction that is key to unlocking the potential of bringing to bear the power of plasmas for the removal of contaminants in water,” Foster said. “My group and colleagues researching this subject around the world remain committed to the pursuit of plasma-based solutions to a host of environmental problems. I express thanks for this award on behalf of myself and the many researchers around the world operating in this field.”

photo of Professor John Foster
Michigan engineering logo


Sara Norman

Michigan Engineering

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read