In Situ Determination of Macroparticle Velocities in a Copper Vacuum Arc

S. Shalev, S. Goldsmith, R. L. Boxman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The velocity components of individual macroparticles (molten droplets) moving through the interelectrode plasma of copper vacuum arc were measured by applying the forward-scattering laser Doppler anemometry method (LDA). The arc was sustained between two cylindrical copper electrodes, 14 mm in diameter and spaced 4 mm apart. Two current waveforms, with rise times to peak currents of 1 and 6 ms and duration of about 5 and 30 ms, respectively, were used in the experiment, while in both cases peak currents were either 1 or 2 kA. Macroparticles traversing through the ellipsoid shaped “probevolume,” which was produced by the intersection of the two He-Ne laser beams, scattered the laser light, through a monochromator, used as a 1.7-Å bandpass filter, onto a photomultiplier. The Doppler-frequency component of the photomultiplier was recorded after appropriate filtering and amplification. The macroparticle velocity component obtained from the Doppler frequency was in the plane defined by the illuminating laser beams and directed perpendicularly to the optical axis. Macroparticles were detected during the whole period of the discharge, and their velocity was determined either at the instant of peak current or when the current decreased to 10 percent of its peak value, at several spatial locations inside the discharge volume. The measured macroparticle velocity components ranged from about 1020 m/s up to about 700 m/s, showing a systematic dependence on the instantaneous value of the arc-current and on the spatial position of the “probe-volume,” e.g., the arithmetical averages of the absolute axial velocity component measured at a point situated 0.5 mm above the cathode, 3.5 mm off-axis, for currents of 1000 and 100 A were about 200 and 150 m/s; respectively. The analyzed experimental data are discussed in connection to the macroparticle plasma interaction model and other velocity estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-151
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1983


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