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  1. The Coulomb expansion of a thin cloud of charged dust particles was observed experimentally, in a plasma afterglow. This expansion occurs due to mutual repulsion among positively charged dust particles, after electrons and ions have escaped the chamber volume. In the experiment, a two-dimensional cloud of dust particles was initially levitated in a glow-discharge plasma. The power was then switched off to produce afterglow conditions. The subsequent fall of the dust cloud was slowed by reversing the electric force, to an upward direction, allowing an extended observation. At early time, measurements of the Coulomb expansion in the horizontal direction are found to be accurately modeled by the equation of state for a uniformly charged thin disk. Finally, bouncing from the lower electrode was found to be avoided by lowering the impact velocity <100 mm/s.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  3. In an experiment, the power that sustains a plasma was extinguished, so that microspheres, which had been levitated, fell downward toward a lower electrode. At the beginning of their fall, the microspheres were self-organized with a crystalline structure. This structure was found to be preserved as the microspheres accelerated all the way to the lower electrode. Although microspheres had, in this afterglow plasma, large positive charges of 12,500  e , their interparticle repulsion was unable to significantly alter the crystalline arrangement of the microspheres, as they fell. After their impact on the lower electrode, the microspheres bounced upward, and only then was the crystalline structure lost.
  4. Abstract

    Complex plasma is a state of soft matter where micrometer-sized particles are immersed in a weakly ionized gas. The particles acquire negative charges of the order of several thousand elementary charges in the plasma, and they can form gaseous, liquid and crystalline states. Direct optical observation of individual particles allows to study their dynamics on the kinetic level even in large many-particle systems. Gravity is the dominant force in ground-based experiments, restricting the research to vertically compressed, inhomogeneous clouds, or two-dimensional systems, and masking dynamical processes mediated by weaker forces. An environment with reduced gravity, such as provided on the International Space Station (ISS), is therefore essential to overcome this limitations. We will present the research goals for the next generation complex plasma facility COMPACT to be operated onboard the ISS. COMPACT is envisaged as an international multi-purpose and multi-user facility that gives access to the full three-dimensional kinetic properties of the particles.