Electric field distribution in a surface plasma flow actuator powered by ns discharge pulse trains

M. Simeni Simeni, Y. Tang, K. Frederickson, I. V. Adamovich

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28 Scopus citations


Electric field vector components in a nanosecond pulse, surface dialectric barrier discharge plasma actuator are measured by picosecond second harmonic generation, for positive, negative, and alternating polarity pulse trains. Plasma images show that in the same polarity train, the positive polarity discharge develops as two consecutive surface ionization waves, while the negative polarity discharge propagates as a single diffuse ionization wave. In the alternating polarity train, both positive and negative polarity discharge plasmas become strongly filamentary. In all pulse trains, the measurement results demonstrate a significant electric field offset before the discharge pulse, due to the surface charge accumulation during previous discharges pulses. This demonstrates that charge accumulation is a significant factor affecting the electric field in the discharge, even at very low pulse repetition rates. Peak electric field measured in the alternating polarity pulse train is lower compared to that in same polarity trains. However, the coupled pulse energy in the alternating polarity train is much higher, by a factor of 3-4, most likely due to the neutralization of the surface charge accumulated on the dielectric during the previous, opposite polarity pulses. This suggests that plasma surface actuators powered by alternating polarity pulse trains may generate higher amplitude thermal perturbations, producing a stronger effect on the flow field. The present results show that the time scale for the electric field reduction in the plasma after breakdown is fairly long, several tens of ns, including the conditions when the discharge develops as a diffuse ionization wave. This suggests that a considerable fraction of the energy is coupled to the plasma at a relatively low reduced electric field, several tens of Townsend. At these conditions, the discharge energy fraction thermalized as rapid heating would remain fairly low, thus limiting the effect on the flow caused by the high-amplitude localized thermal perturbations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104001
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 15 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The support of US Department of Energy Plasma Science Center ‘Predictive Control of Plasma Kinetics: Multi-Phase and Bounded Systems’, and National Science Foundation grant ‘Nanosecond Pulse Discharges at a Liquid-Vapor Interface and in Liquids: Discharge Dynamics and Plasma Chemistry’ is gratefully acknowledged. We would like to thank Dr Benjamin Goldberg from Princeton University for helpful technical discussions of second harmonic generation diagnostics.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • electric field
  • flow control
  • ns pulse discharge
  • plasma actuator
  • second harmonic generation

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