Center for Microplasma Science and Technology

About the CMST


The CMST traces its roots to the Plasma Research Laboratory established in 1958 in the Department of Physics through National Science Foundation (NSF) funding to Professor Po Lee to conduct research in capillary discharges. There were subsequently over forty years of continuous basic studies in solid and gaseous electronics performed by Professor Lee and more recent by Professor John Sein of Physics, right through the turn of the 21st century. More recently in 2005, Professor Jose L. Lopez continued the legacy of plasma research at the University with his studies of dielectric barrier discharges for the optimization of industrial ozone generation and basic studies of the capillary plasma electrode discharge. In 2007 with the appointment of Professor Wei-Dong Zhu to the Department of Applied Science and Technology, the current research focus on microplasma research was further solidified.

CMST’s current research programs consist entirely of sponsored projects, with the bulk of the sponsorship coming from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), but further funded projects have come through past and current funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education, the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund, and various industrial partners.

The current nature of the research spans the spectrum from fundamental inquiries into the basic plasma physics and chemistry of microplasmas to the work on potential microplasma technological applications. CMST maintains five active research laboratories on the Jersey City campus of Saint Peter’s University that support the various research projects.


While fundamental and applied research is a vital function of the CMST, a further crucial mission of the center is education. In conjunction with the Department of Applied Science and Technology, students are educated in an environment that tries to connect basic science to applications and technology while integrating the concepts of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship into the educational curriculum. The CMST actively seeks to attract young people with a special emphasize to reaching out to traditionally underrepresented people in science, technology and engineering professions.

CMST strongly encourages student involvement in all its research programs through both employment opportunities and a variety of educational programs. Our students work alongside with the professional research staff, and are significant contributors to the various research projects. The majority of the students are physics students and applied sciences major students from the Department of Applied Science and Technology. However, there are also a significant number of students from the Biology and Chemistry Departments. There are typically 10 – 15 students working at CMST at any given time. The experience our student researchers gain through their participation in our applied and basic research programs are a substantial enhancement to their formal education and greatly enhance their preparation for continuing graduate school educations. These research experiences further enhance their employability when they graduate providing them with skills and knowledge in areas of critical National interest to various entities such as the Department of Defense (DoD) and the national high-technology industry.

The CMST further hosts various high school students through numerous summer and after-school internships. Current long-standing participating high school partners that send their students to contribute to certain aspects of the various CMST projects are Saint Peter’s Preparatory School and Dr. Ronald McNair Academic High School of Jersey City along with Union City High School. These high schools allow their students the opportunity to participate in a contemporary basic science research project which further allows their students the possibility to develop their own scientific projects that they’ve use to compete in the local science fairs as well in prestigious national science competitions such as the Intel Westinghouse Science Competition.

CMST staff members are also engaged in the educational process through teaching of courses, seminars, and presentations at Saint Peter’s University that are relevant to CMST’s research programs. It is frequently the case that CMST researchers bring to their teaching a valuable current perspective based on their research activities. CMST researchers are further frequently asked to give talks at various educational institutions and invited to present at various national and international scientific meetings, workshops, and conferences.

Public Service

In keeping with the founding institutional core mission of Saint Peter’s University to serve the public good and the fundamental role of public service of all colleges and universities, the CMST has assumed a substantial responsibility for maintaining a significant portion of our Nation’s scientific, technological, and educational expertise in microplasmas. CMST serves as a national base of operations to help mediate and comprehensively organize all national research efforts in the microplasma field for defense and other key national interests. CMST functions as a focal meeting point for scientific meetings, workshops, and conferences, and as a community organizer to establish cross-fertilization efforts between microplasma research and other scientific fields. In fulfilling these responsibilities, CMST strives to maintain research programs that are highly relevant to current national needs, endeavors to preserve and nurture a research staff with a very high level of expertise in our core competency areas, and encourages its staff to assist sponsors in looking ahead to the future to maintain the United States of America’s strength in science and technology.

As a non-profit organization engaged in scientific research and development of advanced technologies, CMST focuses attention and expertise on projects resulting in substantial benefits to various DoD programs such as the U.S. Air Force and in general the United States of America. Due to the CMST being located in a higher education context there is a substantial empathize on educational outreach to young scientists and underrepresented minorities pursuing science careers. CMST is situated in one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world which allows the cultural diversity of students, faculty, and staff mixed with the strong liberal arts curriculum provided by Saint Peter’s University to enhance the overall quality of the research work and the scientific findings. In addition, numerous important DoD facilities such as Picatinny, Fort Monmouth, Fort Dix, Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, and McGuire Air Force Base are located in close proximity. Furthermore, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, a Department of Energy (DoE) National laboratory dedicated to research of the use of plasmas for fusion energy is located in close proximity. CMST provides a scientifically well-educated labor pool for these various national facilities.

A further key public service of the CMST is to serve as a scientific and technological knowledge resource to the national high technology industry. One of the logistical advantages of the CMST is its central location within the New Jersey-New York metropolitan area where approximately 40% of the national gross domestic product is generated and is a regional area where a large number of advanced science and technology companies have their corporate and R&D headquarters. CMST works to further help stimulate economic development in Jersey City which is currently the largest growing city both in population and economically in New Jersey and in the Northeast region of the United States.

CMST staff members are proud of their role in helping build and enhance the strength of our local, national, and global community.