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Title: Theory of the electron sheath and presheath

Here, electron sheaths are commonly found near Langmuir probes collecting the electron saturation current. The common assumption is that the probe collects the random flux of electrons incident on the sheath, which tacitly implies that there is no electron presheath and that the flux collected is due to a velocity space truncation of the electron velocity distribution function (EVDF). This work provides a dedicated theory of electron sheaths, which suggests that they are not so simple. Motivated by EVDFs observed in particle-in-cell(PIC) simulations, a 1D model for the electron sheath and presheath is developed. In the model, under low temperature plasma conditions (T e >> T i), an electron pressure gradient accelerates electrons in the presheath to a flow velocity that exceeds the electron thermal speed at the sheath edge. This pressure gradient generates large flow velocities compared to what would be generated by ballistic motion in response to the electric field. It is found that in many situations, under common plasma conditions, the electron presheath extends much further into the plasma than an analogous ion presheath. PIC simulations reveal that the ion density in the electron presheath is determined by a flow around the electron sheath and that thismore » flow is due to 2D aspects of the sheath geometry. Simulations also indicate the presence of ion acoustic instabilities excited by the differential flow between electrons and ions in the presheath, which result in sheath edge fluctuations. The 1D model and time averaged PIC simulations are compared and it is shown that the model provides a good description of the electron sheath and presheath.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA (United States)
  2. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1070-664X; PHPAEN; 642141
Grant/Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000; AC04-94SL8500; AC05-06OR23100
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physics of Plasmas
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 22; Journal Issue: 12; Journal ID: ISSN 1070-664X
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Research Org:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; plasma sheaths; electrodes; plasma flows; Boltzmann equations; particle-in-cell method
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1234112