Introduction to Plasma Electronics
Winter 2019 - Plasma physics is a really exciting field because of all the advanced technologies that utilize it. Gekelman has been a huge figure in the field for decades so taking this class with him is really a cool experience. He makes some algebra mistakes sometimes, and the slides can get pretty dense with the mathematics, but Gekelman always makes sure to teach the physics of it (it can be easy to get bogged down in the math if you try to write it all down, focus on what he is saying instead). Make sure youre E&M is strong, and maybe brush up on some basic fluid dynamics, because you really hit the ground running with this class. Overall, a really great class, one of the more difficult classes I've taken out of the physics department.
Fall 2021 - M122 is a tough class. Usually plasma physics will be a graduate class, but in this senior-level version the topics are only slightly easier. Although the req for this course is only 110A, it actually relies heavily on electrodynamics and Maxwell's equations, so be prepared on EM or take 110B before this class. Professor Mori is a big figure is plasma physics, and he has a unique teaching style. Although the textbook of this course (Chen) is a real classic, he lectured mainly on his own notes which, despite being very hard to read, expanded on certain topics (e.g. kinetic theory) and sometimes offered different perspectives on how to approach problems in plasma physics. His lectures were fast-paced and often assumed familiarity with a variety of topics (e.g. fluid mechanics), but he was patient to explain them if someone asked. It will be good if you read the lecture notes before attending the lectures so that you won't get lost in the lenthy derivations. In addition to the usual topics covered in the course, he also talked about many interesting applications and recent breakthroughs related to the physics in the lectures, which made the lectures a really rewarding experience. Some of the homework problems came from the Chen textbook, while others are original problems which were notoriously hard. Both midterm and final were open book and somehow similar to the homework problems. There was also a Jupyter notebook assignment in which you run PIC simulations and analyze the results. The notebooks were really interesting and helped me understand the course materials. Overall, the course is very difficult, but also very rewarding because you get the privilege to be familiar with plasma physics earlier than most undergrad physics students. I recommend the course and Professor Mori to anyone interested in plasma physics.