I have an undergraduate background of electrodynamics, special theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. I would like to study plasma physics by myself so please suggest a few introductory books on the topic.

  • $\begingroup$ typing plasma physics into amazon will give a list of books with blurbs, press releases, customer reviews etc - what are you looking for besides that sort of information? $\endgroup$
    – innisfree
    Jul 1, 2015 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/22838/2451 $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Jul 1, 2015 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ Note there are (at least) two main branches of plasma physics books these days: astrophysical plasmas and fusion plasmas. You kind of have to decide which application you want the theory grounded in. $\endgroup$
    – user10851
    Jul 1, 2015 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ George Parks wrote an introductory textbook a few years back and there is a good one by Gurnett and Bhattacharjee in 2005. If you want to look at instabilities, Treumann and Baumjohann wrote a two-part book that is pretty good or you can look at S. Peter Gary's book on plasma instabilities. $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2015 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


Introduction to Plasma Physics by Francis Chen is probably one of the best sources for introductory plasma physics, despite being slightly dated (publication date of 1995) and using CGS units. It covers, among other things,

  • particle motions in E&M fields
  • plasmas as fluids (e.g., MHD)
  • plasmas as particles (kinetic theory)
  • controlled fusion

As a background, you'll probably only need to recall E&M, some statistical mechanics and some vector calculus; much of the book builds on previous chapters, so it can be used for self-study as well as coursework. There are problems to solve at the end of each section of the chapter, though no solutions appendix.

  1. Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion by F. F. Chen (Third Edition 2016) is one of the best for beginners.
  2. Fundamentals of plasma physics by P.M. Bellan (2006)
  3. Principles of Plasma Discharges and Materials Processing (Second Edition, 2005) by Lieberman, Lichtenberg
  4. Plasma physics: An introduction to laboratory, space, and fusion plasmas (2010) by A. Piel

These books can be used in graduate and postgraduate levels. One should know differential and integral calculus to understand these books. Minimum knowledge in Electrodynamics, Thermodynamics, Fluid dynamics is another pre-requisite. F. F. Chen's book is the best with the most updated subject. Bellan's book is the simplest of all the aforementioned four. Lieberman's book focuses on material-processing techniques that use plasma along with the fundamentals. Piel's book covers a wide range of topics associated with plasma ranging from laboratory to space.

One can start with Chen's book and if there is a difficult or direct derivation, better to look in Bellan's book (Everything may not be available!).


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