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Electron density and two-channel neutron emission measurements in steady-state spherical inertial-electrostatically confined plasmas, with review of the one-dimensional kinetic model

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2 Author(s)
Dobson, Chris C. ; Propulsion Research Center, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama 35812 ; Hrbud, Ivana

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Electron density measurements have been made in steady-state plasmas in a spherical inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC) discharge using microwave interferometry. Plasma cores interior to two cathodes, having diameters of 15 and 23 cm, respectively, were probed over a transverse range of 10 cm with a spatial resolution of about 1.4 cm for buffer gas pressures from 0.2 to 6 Pa in argon and deuterium. The transverse profiles are generally flat, in some cases with eccentric symmetric minima, and give mean densities of from ≈0.4 to 7×1010cm-3, the density generally increasing with the neutral gas pressure. Numerical solutions of the one-dimensional Poisson equation for IEC plasmas are reviewed and energy distribution functions are identified which give flat transverse profiles. These functions are used with the plasma approximation to obtain solutions which also give densities consistent with the measurements, and a double potential well solution is obtained which has minima qualitatively similar to those observed. Explicit consideration is given to the compatibility of the solutions interior and exterior to the cathode, and to grid transparency. Deuterium fusion neutron emission rates were also measured and found to be isotropic, to within the measurement error, over two simultaneous directions. Anisotropy was observed in residual emissions during operation with nonfusing hydrogen-1. The deuterium rates are consistent with predictions from the model. 2004 American Institute of Physics.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:96 ,  Issue: 1 )