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The dynamic response of an inhomogeneous plasma diode to an applied potential drop

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2 Author(s)
M. Bohm ; R. Inst. of Technol., Stockholm, Sweden ; S. B. Torven

Recent measurements of the response to an applied step voltage in collisionless plasmas have demonstrated the importance of the initial ion density distribution for the resulting time evolution and the formation of electric double layers. The dynamic response of a plasma diode to an applied step voltage is studied by particle-in-cell simulations and an analytical model. It is shown that an ion-density cavity (a local ion-density minimum with a width of many Debye lengths) can support large potential drops for several electron transit times. The potential drop extends over a distance related to the cavity width. When the applied potential drop exceeds a certain critical value, which depends on the cavity depth, the drop instead concentrates in a cathode sheath, which also is the response obtained for homogeneous initial plasma. The existence regions for the two different response in the appropriate parameter plane are found from the simulations and shown to agree with the regions predicted analytically. The analytical potential profiles agree with those simulated

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:20 ,  Issue: 5 )