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Theory of the cathode sheath in a vacuum arc

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1 Author(s)
Riemann, K.-U. ; Inst. fuer Theor. Phys., Ruhr-Univ., Bochum, West Germany

A previous theory of the plasma sheath transition starting from the charge exchange model for ion collisions is extended to account for ionization and recombination. It is applied to the quasi-neutral boundary layer (presheath) in front of the cathode sheath of a vacuum arc. An essential potential and density difference between the sheath edge and cathodic plasma ball is found. This difference is accounted for in a unified theory of the arc cathode based on G. Ecker's (1971) existence diagram method, which indicates possible areas of arc operation in the Tcj plane, where Tc is the spot temperature and j is the current density. A numerical evaluation for Cu gives the results which are qualitatively similar to Ecker's theory. The existence areas are quantitatively enlarged and shifted to lower current densities

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 5 )