Electric force on plasma ions and the momentum of the ion-neutrals flow

G. Makrinich, A. Fruchtman, D. Zoler, R. L. Boxman

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The electric force on ions in plasma and the momentum flux carried by the mixed ion-neutral flow were measured and found to be equal. The experiment was performed in a direct-current gas discharge of cylindrical geometry with applied radial electric field and axial magnetic field. The unmagnetized plasma ions, neutralized by magnetized electrons, were accelerated radially outward transferring part of the gained momentum to neutrals. Measurements were taken for various argon gas flow rates between 13 and 100 Standard Cubic Centimeter per Minute, for a discharge current of 1.9 A and a magnetic field intensity of 136 G. The plasma density, electron temperature, and plasma potential were measured at various locations along the flow. These measurements were used to determine the local electric force on the ions. The total electric force on the plasma ions was then determined by integrating radially the local electric force. In parallel, the momentum flux of the mixed ion-neutral flow was determined by measuring the force exerted by the flow on a balance force meter (BFM). The maximal plasma density was between 6 × 1010 cm-3 and 5 × 1011 cm-3, the maximal electron temperature was between 8 eV and 25 eV, and the deduced maximal electric field was between 2200 V/m and 5800 V/m. The force exerted by the mixed ion-neutral flow on the BFM agreed with the total electric force on the plasma ions. This agreement showed that it is the electric force on the plasma ions that is the source of the momentum acquired by the mixed ion-neutral flow.

Original languageEnglish
Article number173302
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number17
StatePublished - 7 May 2018


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation765/11, 1581/16


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