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The confinement of energy has always been a challenge in magnetic confinement fusion devices. Due to their toroidal shape there exist regions of high and low magnetic field, so that the particles are divided into two classes - trapped ones that are periodically reflected in regions of high magnetic field with a characteristic frequency, and passing particles, whose parallel velocity is high enough that they largely follow a magnetic field line around the torus without being reflected. The radial drift that a particle experiences due to the field inhomogeneity depends strongly on its position, and the net drift therefore depends on the path taken by the particle. While the radial drift is close to zero for passing particles, trapped particles experience a finite radial net drift and are therefore lost in classical stellarators. These losses are described by the so-called neoclassical transport theory. Recent optimised stellarator geometries, however, in which the trapped particles precess around the torus poloidally and do not experience any net drift, promise to reduce the neoclassical transport down to the level of tokamaks. In these optimised stellarators, the neoclassical transport becomes small enough so that turbulent transport may limit the confinement instead. The turbulence is driven by small-scale-instabilities, which tap the free energy of density or temperature gradients in the plasma. Some of these instabilities are driven by the trapped particles and therefore depend strongly on the magnetic geometry, so the question arises how the optimisation affects the stability. In this thesis, collisionless electrostatic microinstabilities are studied both analytically and numerically. Magnetic configurations where the action integral of trapped-particle bounce motion, J, only depends on the radial position in the plasma and where its maximum is in the plasma centre, so-called maximum-J configurations, are of special interest. This condition can be achieved approximately in quasi-isodynamic stellarators, for example Wendelstein 7-X. In such configurations the precessional drift of the trapped particles is in the opposite direction from the direction of propagation of drift waves. Instabilities that are driven by the trapped particles usually rely on a resonance between these two frequencies. Here it is shown analytically by analysing the electrostatic energy transfer between the particles and the instability that, thanks to the absence of the resonance, a particle species draws energy from the mode if the frequency of the mode is well below the charateristic bounce frequency. Due to the low electron mass and the fast bounce motion, electrons are almost always found to be stabilising. Most of the trapped-particle instabilities are therefore predicted to be absent in maximum- J configurations in large parts of parameter space. Analytical theory thus predicts enhanced linear stability of trapped-particle modes in quasi-isodynamic stellarators compared with tokamaks. Moreover, since the electrons are expected to be stabilising, or at least less destabilising, for all instabilities whose frequency lies below the trapped-electron bounce frequency, other modes might benefit from the enhanced stability as well. In reality, however, stellarators are never perfectly quasi-isodynamic, and the question thus arises whether they still benefit from enhanced stability. Here the stability properties of Wendelstein 7-X and a more quasi-isodynamic configuration, QIPC, are investigated numerically and compared with another, non-quasiisodynamic stellarator, the National Compact Stellarator Experiment (NCSX) and a typical tokamak. In gyrokinetic simulations, performed with the gyrokinetic code GENE in the electrostatic and collisionless approximation, several microinstabilities, driven by the density as well as both ion and electron temperature gradients, are studied. Wendelstein 7-X and QIPC exhibit significantly reduced growth rates for all simulations that include kinetic electrons, and the latter are indeed found to be stabilising when the electrostatic energy transfer is analysed. In contrast, if only the ions are treated kinetically but the electrons are taken to be in thermodynamic equilibrium, no such stabilising effect is observed. These results suggest that imperfectly optimised stellarators can retain most of the stabilising properties predicted for perfect maximum-J configurations. Quasi-isodynamic stellarators, in addition to having reduced neoclassical transport, might therefore also show reduced turbulent transport, at least in certain regions of parameter space.

The concept of the electron surface layer introduced in this thesis provides a framework for the description of the microphysics of the surplus electrons immediately at the wall and thereby complements the modelling of the plasma sheath. In this work we have considered from a surface physics perspective the distribution and build-up of an electron adsorbate on the wall as well as the effect of the negative charge on the scattering of light by a spherical particle immersed in a plasma. In our electron surface layer model we treat the wall-bound electrons as a wall-thermalised electron distribution minimising the grand canonical potential and satisfying Poissons equation. The boundary between the electron surface layer and the plasma sheath is determined by a force balance between the attractive image potential and the repulsive sheath potential and lies in front of the crystallographic interface. Depending on the electron affinity x, that is the offset of the conduction band minimum to the potential in front of the surface, two scenarios for the wall-bound electrons are realised. For x<0 electrons do not penetrate into the solid but are trapped in the image states in front of the surface where they form a quasi two-dimensional electron gas. For x>0 electrons penetrate into the conduction band where they form an extended space charge. These different scenarios are also reflected in the electron kinetics at the wall which control the sticking coefficient and the desorption time. If x<0 electrons from the plasma cannot penetrate into the solid. They are trapped in the image states in front of the surface. The transitions between unbound and bound states are due to surface vibrations. Trapping of electrons is mediated by one-phonon transitions and takes place in the upper bound states. Owing to the large binding energy of the lowest bound state transitions from the upper bound states to the lowest bound state are due to multi-phonon processes. For low surface temperatures relaxation to the lowest bound state takes place while for higher temperature a relaxation bottleneck emerges. Desorption occurs in cascades for systems without relaxation bottleneck and as a one-way process in systems with a relaxation bottleneck. From the perspective of plasma physics the most important result is that the sticking coefficient for electrons is relatively small, typically on the order of 0.001. For x>0 electron physisorption takes place in the conduction band. For this case sticking coefficients and desorption times have not been calculated yet but in view of the more efficient scattering with bulk phonons, responsible for electron energy relaxation in this case, we expect them to be larger than for the case of x<0. Finally, we have studied the effects of surplus electrons on the scattering of light by a spherical particle. For x<0 the electrons form a spherical electron gas around the particle and their electrical conductivity modifies the boundary condition for the magnetic field. For x>0 the electrons in the bulk of the particle modify the refractive index through their bulk electrical conductivity. In both cases the conductivity is limited by scattering with surface or bulk phonons. Surplus electrons lead to an increase of absorption at low frequencies and, most notably, to a blue-shift of an extinction resonance in the infrared. This shift is proportional to the charge and is strongest for submicron-sized particles. The particle charge is also revealed in a blue-shift of the rapid variation of one of the two polarisation angles of the reflected light. From our work we conclude that the electron affinity is an important parameter of the surface which should affect the charge distribution as well as the charge-up. Therefore, we encourage experimentalists to study the charging of surfaces or dust particles as a function of x. Interesting in this respect is also if or under what conditions the electron affinity of a surface exposed to a plasma remains stable. Moreover, we suggest to use the charge signatures in Mie scattering to measure the particle charge optically. This would allow a charge measurement independent of the plasma parameters and could be applied to nano-dust where conventional methods cannot be applied.

In this work, various aspects of fundamental physics and chemistry of molecular gas discharges are presented with emphasis on the interaction between species, activated by low-pressure plasmas, and surfaces. As already known, synergistic effects of multiple plasma-generated species are responsible for surface modification. However, due to the large number of internal parameters of a discharge and the complex plasma processes the identification of correlations between plasma characteristics and their effects on surfaces are complicated. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to improve the understanding of several phenomena associated with plasmaâ€“surface interactions by measuring or calculating fundamental kinetic, transport or spectroscopic data needed to interpret measurements and hereby, to support some future applications of plasmas.