This book is intended to provide a general introduction to plasma phenomena at a level appropriate for advanced undergraduate students or beginning graduate students. The reader is expected to have had exposure to basic electromagnetic principles including Maxwell's equations and the propagation of plane waves in free space. Despite its importance in both science and engineering the body of literature on plasma physics is often not easily accessible to the non-specialist, let alone the beginner. The diversity of topics and applications in plasma physics has created a field that is fragmented by topic-specific assumptions and rarely presented in a unified manner with clarity. In this book we strive to provide a foundation for understanding a wide range of plasma phenomena and applications. The text organization is a successive progression through interconnected physical models, allowing diverse topics to be presented in the context of unifying principles. The presentation of material is intended to be compact yet thorough, giving the reader the necessary tools for further specialized study. We have sought a balance between mathematical rigor championed by theorists and practical considerations important to experimenters and engineers. Considerable effort has been made to provide explanations that yield physical insight and illustrations of concepts through relevent examples from science and technology.
The material presented in this book was initially put together as class notes for the EE356 Elementary Plasma Physics course, newly introduced and taught by one of us (USI) at Stanford University in the spring quarter of 1998.