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Why vacuum arc cathode spots can appear larger than they are

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3 Author(s)
E. Hantzsche ; Max-Planck-Inst. fur Plasmaphys., Berlin, Germany ; B. Juttner ; G. Ziegenhagen

The visual appearance of arc cathode spots in vacuum is studied experimentally and theoretically. Emission photographs of the spots taken with line radiation have a broad light profile with a rather flat slope (proportional to r with β≈2, r being the distance from the spot center), while photographs taken in absorption are small, having a sharp edge with a steep slope of the profile (β⩾4). Emission photographs from the continuum are similar to absorption photographs. Theoretical analysis shows that the emitted line radiation cannot stem from the locus of excitation. As a consequence, the particles are excited at the edge of the dense spot core, but they radiate at a greater distance due to the finite lifetime of the excited levels and the plasma expansion. Thus, emission photographs from line radiation indicate a greater spot size (about 100 μm) than corresponding to the active spot radius which amounts to ⩽10 μm. This statement holds for discharge durations from 10 ns up to at least 100 μs. The spots exist not only at ignition but during the whole time of the discharge, the location varying due to the spot movement. Absorption photographs show a small size of 10-20 μm still 200 μs after ignition

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 1 )