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Bare-Tether Sheath and Current: Comparison of Asymptotic Theory and Kinetic Simulations in Stationary Plasma

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5 Author(s)
Juan R. Sanmartin ; Dept. of Appl. Phys., Univ. Politec. de Madrid, Madrid ; Eric Choiniere ; Brian E. Gilchrist ; Jean-Benoit Ferry
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Analytical expressions for current to a cylindrical Langmuir probe at rest in unmagnetized plasma are compared with results from both steady-state Vlasov and particle-in-cell simulations. Probe bias potentials that are much greater than plasma temperature (assumed equal for ions and electrons), as of interest for bare conductive tethers, are considered. At a very high bias, both the electric potential and the attracted-species density exhibit complex radial profiles; in particular, the density exhibits a minimum well within the plasma sheath and a maximum closer to the probe. Excellent agreement is found between analytical and numerical results for values of the probe radius R close to the maximum radius Rmax for orbital-motion-limited (OML) collection at a particular bias in the following number of profile features: the values and positions of density minimum and maximum, position of sheath boundary, and value of a radius characterizing the no-space-charge behavior of a potential near the high-bias probe. Good agreement between the theory and simulations is also found for parametric laws jointly covering the following three characteristic R ranges: sheath radius versus probe radius and bias for R Lt Rmax; density minimum versus probe bias for R cong Rmax; and (weakly bias-dependent) current drop below the OML value versus the probe radius for R > R.

Published in:

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