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In the present article a multiple-peaked structure in the time-of-flight (TOF) spectrum obtained in a TOF analyzer system installed in the Sinp-tokamak has been reported. An explanation of the nature of the measured TOF spectrum has been given on the basis of a proposed model describing acceleration, in the radial direction, of radially diffusing ions in the ambipolar electric field. It is concluded that the particle diffusion across the magnetic field as a result of acceleration by the dynamic ambipolar electric field and charge-exchange collisions can be studied by a TOF analyzer system coupled with a research tokamak. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.