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Title: Existence of a virtual cathode close to a strongly electron emissive wall in low density plasmas

The interaction between an electron emissive wall, electrically biased in a plasma, is revisited through a simple fluid model. We search for realistic conditions of the existence of a non-monotonic plasma potential profile with a virtual cathode as it is observed in several experiments. We mainly focus our attention on thermionic emission related to the operation of emissive probes for plasma diagnostics, although most conclusions also apply to other electron emission processes. An extended Bohm criterion is derived involving the ratio between the two different electron densities at the potential minimum and at the background plasma. The model allows a phase-diagram analysis, which confirms the existence of the non-monotonic potential profiles with a virtual cathode. This analysis shows that the formation of the potential well critically depends on the emitted electron current and on the velocity at the sheath edge of cold ions flowing from the bulk plasma. As a consequence, a threshold value of the governing parameter is required, in accordance to the physical nature of the electron emission process. The latter is a threshold wall temperature in the case of thermionic electrons. Experimental evidence supports our numerical calculations of this threshold temperature. Besides this, the potential well becomesmore » deeper with increasing electron emission, retaining a fraction of the released current which limits the extent of the bulk plasma perturbation. This noninvasive property would explain the reliable measurements of plasma potential by using the floating potential method of emissive probes operating in the so-called strong emission regime.« less
Authors:
; ; ;  [1]
  1. Department of Applied Physics, E.T.S.I. Aeronáutica y del Espacio. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 28040 Madrid (Spain)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22493854
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physics of Plasmas; Journal Volume: 23; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: (c) 2016 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; CATHODES; CURRENTS; DISTURBANCES; ELECTRON DENSITY; ELECTRON EMISSION; FLOW MODELS; INTERACTIONS; IONS; PHASE DIAGRAMS; PLASMA DENSITY; PLASMA DIAGNOSTICS; PLASMA POTENTIAL; THERMIONIC EMISSION; WALLS