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Matt Wiebold

Assistant Professor of Physics at St. Olaf College

Matt Wiebold

Currently a professor, mentor, father, and husband.

I earned my doctorate in Electrical Engineering at University of Wisconsin - Madison in 2011, which was focused on the use of low temperature plasmas in space propulsion. My thesis proposed that argon ion acceleration seen in recent helicon experiments could be the result of the self-bias effect, a phenomenon commonly used to control ion energy in processing plasmas. The self-bias effect may be able to drastically improve propellant usage efficiency, which is important for long range space missions. Thrusters used in space typically have very low thrust, on the order of a few paperclips, but use their limited propellant very efficiently.

Recently, my research as a postdoc at UW-Madison in the Scharer group at UW-Madison and as faculty at Carleton College has focused on modeling the formation of this self-bias using computational methods. Particle-in-cell codes, which compute inter-particle interactions based on first principles by stepping in time, can elicit large scale, collective plasma behavior. Together with the Scharer group's plasma wave codes (ANTENAII and MAXEB), quantities that are difficult to access experimentally can be modeled in detail. Further discussion can be found on my research page.