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Charging of Macroparticles in a Pulsed Vacuum Arc Discharge

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2 Author(s)
Rysanek, F. ; Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL ; Burton, Rodney L.

A pulsed vacuum arc discharge emits a plasma as well as macroparticles (MPs) in the form of micrometer-sized molten droplets of cathode material. Due to their direction of flight and submicrometer to 100-mum diameter, these MPs often pose a contamination threat for both spacecraft-based thrusters and thin-film deposition systems. The velocity, mass, and charge of copper MPs emitted by a 100-A arc was experimentally measured and compared to a model based on thermionic electron emission. The MP velocity was determined by using a time-of-flight velocity filter. The charge was calculated by measuring particle deflection in a transverse electric field. The model predicts, and the experimental results verify, that the charge on the MPs becomes positive once the plasma is extinguished, and the MP travels in a vacuum, as would occur in a pulsed vacuum arc, versus a dc arc. Experimental results show a roughly quadratic dependence of particle charge on the particle diameter (q ~ D2), with a 1-mum particle having a positive charge of ~1000 electronic charges (1.6 times 10-16 C), and a 5-mum particle having a charge of ~25 000 electronic charges. The model is particle temperature dependent, and gives q ~ D2 at 1750 K and q ~ D1.7 at 2200 K. Arguments are also made for limitations on particle temperature due to radiative and evaporative cooling.

Published in:

Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:36 ,  Issue: 5 )

Date of Publication:

Oct. 2008

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