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Emissions from nonconducting negatively charged dust grains

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3 Author(s)
Pavlu, J. ; Fac. of Math. & Phys., Charles Univ., Prague, Czech Republic ; Nemecek, Z. ; Safrankova, J.

Dust grains immersed into a low-temperature plasma are charged negatively because the electron attachment dominates other charging processes. However, increasing energy of impinging electrons leads to the increase of the yield of secondary emission. When this yield exceeds unity, the grain becomes charged positively. Previous laboratory experiments with electron beams have shown that the surface potential of large grains follows roughly an energy dependence of the secondary emission yield. It means that the grain potential reaches its maximum for hundreds of electronvolts of electron energy and then decreases. Model calculations reveal that the decrease of the grain potential with the electron energy can lead to the reversal of charge sign in a certain range of grain diameters. After this reversal, the grain is charged to the negative potential close to the beam energy. We use of this effect for investigations of electron field emission from nonconducting spheres (glass and melamine formaldehyde resin) with the diameter 4-11 μm for glass and 5 and 10 μm for resin. Single grains were trapped in a Paul trap and bombarded by the electron beam. The beam energy was changed in a range of 0.3-10 keV. The experimental results confirm the aforementioned expectations and an analysis of these results has shown that: 1) the effective work function for electron field emission from charged nonconducting materials (glass and melamine resin) could be as low as 2 eV, but it can be close to 5 eV as expected for insulating materials. The difference is connected with the charging history. 2) The effect of field dependent secondary emission limits the attainable negative potential.

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:32 ,  Issue: 2 )