Townsend to glow discharge transition for a nanosecond pulse plasma in helium: Space charge formation and resulting electric field dynamics

Marien Simeni Simeni, Yashuang Zheng, Edward V. Barnat, Peter J. Bruggeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stark polarization spectroscopy is used to investigate the temporal evolution of the electric field distribution in the cathode region of a nanosecond pulsed discharge in helium at 120 Torr. The measurements are performed on the He I transition at 492.19 nm, during the early stages of the discharge formation. The experimental results are compared with the predictions of a 1D fluid model. Time-resolved ICCD images show that the discharge develops as a diffuse, cathode-directed ionization wave with a Townsend-like feature before transitioning into a glow-like structure. Near anode instabilities characterized by filament formation were observed near the high voltage electrode. Within 30 ns, a reduction of the sheath thickness to about 250 μm is observed, coinciding with a gradual increase of the discharge current and proportional increase in electric field at the cathode. The cathode electric field corresponding to this sheath with a thickness of 250 μm is about 40 kV cm-1. A subsequent steep increase of the discharge current leads to a further reduction of the sheath width. The electric field evolution as obtained by the fluid model is in excellent agreement with the measurements and shows that an enhanced ionization near the cathode is causing the space charge formation responsible for the increase in electric field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number055004
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Volume30
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 IOP Publishing Ltd.

Keywords

  • Stark polarization spectroscopy
  • electric field
  • fluid modeling
  • glow discharge
  • nanosecond pulsed discharge
  • sheath formation

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