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Measurement of electron density in complex plasmas of the PK-3 plus apparatus on the International Space Station

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3 Author(s)
Takahashi, Kazuo ; Department of Electronics, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Matsugasaki, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8585, Japan ; Hayashi, Yasuaki ; Adachi, Satoshi

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Dust particles in discharge are often levitated in a sheath region rather than in bulk plasma under gravitational conditions (on Earth). Gravity compresses dust clouds, and the gravitational force restricts the motion of the dust particles. Microgravity gives the plasmas, including dust particles, so-called complex (dusty) plasmas, where dust particles are embedded in a completely charge-neutral region of the bulk plasma. The dust cloud, as an uncompressed strongly-coupled Coulomb system, corresponds to an atomic model with physical phenomena, e.g., crystallization, phase transition, and so on. Since the phenomena are tightly connected to plasma states expressed by plasma parameters, it is significant to estimate the plasma parameters, such as electron density and temperature. The present work shows the electron density measured by the frequency shift probe in the apparatus for microgravity experiments currently boarding on the International Space Station (PK-3 plus). The frequency shift probe measurement gave electron density in the order of 108 cm-3 as a typical value in the apparatus, and demonstrated the detection of electrons in plasmas with dust particles. The spatial distribution profile of the electron density obtained in this measurement presents an aspect for the void formation of dust clouds under microgravity.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:110 ,  Issue: 1 )

Date of Publication:

Jul 2011

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