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Levitation and dynamics of a collection of dust particles in a fully ionized plasma sheath

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4 Author(s)
Nitter, Tore ; Auroral Obs., Tromso Univ., Norway ; Aslaksen, T.K. ; Melandso, F. ; Havnes, Ove

Examines the dynamics of a collection of charged dust particles in the plasma sheath above a large body in a fully ionized space plasma when the radius of the large body is much larger than the sheath thickness. The dust particles are charged by the plasma, and the forces on the dust particles are assumed to be from the electric field in the sheath and from gravitation only. These forces will often act in opposite directions and may balance, making dust suspension and collection possible. The dust particles are supplied by injection or by electrostatic levitation. The ability of the sheath to collect dust particles, will be optimal for a certain combination of gravitation and plasma and dust particle parameters. In a dense dust sheath, the charges on the dust particles contribute significantly to the total space charge, and collective effects become important. These effects will reduce the magnitude of the sheath electric field strength and the charge on the dust particles. As dust particles are collected, the dust sheath is stretched and the largest dust particles may drop out, because the sheath is no longer able to suspend them. In a tenuous dust sheath, the inner layer, from the surface and about one Debye length thick, will be unstable for dust particle motion, and dust will not collect there. In a dense dust sheath, collective effects will decrease the thickness of this inner dust-free layer, making dust collection closer to the surface possible. By linearization of the force and current equations, the necessary and sufficient conditions for a stable dust sheath are found. The authors consider conditions which resemble those of planetary system bodies, but the results may also be of relevance to some laboratory plasmas

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:22 ,  Issue: 2 )