Svetozar Popovic, PhD

Research Professor


Svetozar Popovic, PhD

Research Professor

Old Dominion University

Physics Department

 Curriculum vitae



4600 Elkhorn Avenue, Room 2100 I

Norfolk VA 23529


To contact me:

Phone: (757) 683-4618

Cell: (757) 575-2264

Fax: (757) 683-3038


A variety of microwave plasma experiments have been built in my laboratory and at NASA Langley Research Center, where I cooperate with Reginald Exton. I am particularly proud of the levitation experiment, which we uses as a force balance for the flow in the boundary layer. We obtain about 1 mN per W of microwave power. Other plasma methods (dielectric barrier discharge, for instance) generate several orders of magnitude lower forces. I am currently working with my students on combined laser and microwave action to generate plasma trips for transition studies, plasma fins and plasma flaps for motion control from fundamental concepts to practical applications.


In the past decade I have started work on the possibilities of utilization of planetary atmospheres. The work started with plasma generation at Mars surface conditions. We teamed with Robert Ash from ODU to perform experiments on oxygen production. This activity evolved into the laboratory validation experiment of power harvesting in the aerobraking phase of Mars entry to prove the concept developed by Robert Moses at NASA Langley. I have developed with my students a supersonic flowing plasma experiment that is still producing data. Together with Leposava Vuskovic, we have built a magnetohydrodynamic power generator that has demonstrated efficient power conversion, and since has spawned several ideas on oxygen harvesting, and thermal protection systems that may prove to be enabling technologies for the Mars exploration program.


I am developing a tandem discharge, which is the combination of a microwave discharge and dielectric barrier discharge in synchronized operation. Tandem discharge has proved that low power microwave is capable of generating plasma at near-atmospheric pressure and retaining the efficiency of metastable oxygen production at low pressures. Currently, I am building an atmospheric pressure tandem discharge for the study of polymer generation and mitigation in nitrogen-methane plasma mixtures.