skip to main content

Title: Theory of ion holes in space and astrophysical plasmas
ABSTRACT Coherent bipolar electric field structures, ubiquitously found in various space and astrophysical plasma environments, play an important role in plasma transport and particle acceleration. Most of the studies found in the literature about them pertain to bipolar structures with positive potentials interpreted in terms of electron holes. Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft have recently observed a series of coherent electric field structures with negative potential in the Earth’s bow shock region, which are interpreted as ion holes. The existing theoretical models of ion holes are inadequate because they entail stringent conditions on the ratio of ion to electron temperature. This letter presents a new theory that provides a satisfactory explanation to these observations. A salient point is that this letter incorporates the electron dynamics in the theoretical formalism, which removes ambiguities associated with existing theories, thus showing that the new theory for ion holes may be widely applicable for space and astrophysical plasmas.
Authors:
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1842643
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10212480
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Volume:
497
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
L69 to L75
ISSN:
1745-3925
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Resonant tunneling diodes (RTDs) have come full-circle in the past 10 years after their demonstration in the early 1990s as the fastest room-temperature semiconductor oscillator, displaying experimental results up to 712 GHz and fmax values exceeding 1.0 THz [1]. Now the RTD is once again the preeminent electronic oscillator above 1.0 THz and is being implemented as a coherent source [2] and a self-oscillating mixer [3], amongst other applications. This paper concerns RTD electroluminescence – an effect that has been studied very little in the past 30+ years of RTD development, and not at room temperature. We present experiments and modeling of an n-type In0.53Ga0.47As/AlAs double-barrier RTD operating as a cross-gap light emitter at ~300K. The MBE-growth stack is shown in Fig. 1(a). A 15-μm-diam-mesa device was defined by standard planar processing including a top annular ohmic contact with a 5-μm-diam pinhole in the center to couple out enough of the internal emission for accurate free-space power measurements [4]. The emission spectra have the behavior displayed in Fig. 1(b), parameterized by bias voltage (VB). The long wavelength emission edge is at  = 1684 nm - close to the In0.53Ga0.47As bandgap energy of Ug ≈ 0.75 eV at 300 K.more »The spectral peaks for VB = 2.8 and 3.0 V both occur around  = 1550 nm (h = 0.75 eV), so blue-shifted relative to the peak of the “ideal”, bulk InGaAs emission spectrum shown in Fig. 1(b) [5]. These results are consistent with the model displayed in Fig. 1(c), whereby the broad emission peak is attributed to the radiative recombination between electrons accumulated on the emitter side, and holes generated on the emitter side by interband tunneling with current density Jinter. The blue-shifted main peak is attributed to the quantum-size effect on the emitter side, which creates a radiative recombination rate RN,2 comparable to the band-edge cross-gap rate RN,1. Further support for this model is provided by the shorter wavelength and weaker emission peak shown in Fig. 1(b) around = 1148 nm. Our quantum mechanical calculations attribute this to radiative recombination RR,3 in the RTD quantum well between the electron ground-state level E1,e, and the hole level E1,h. To further test the model and estimate quantum efficiencies, we conducted optical power measurements using a large-area Ge photodiode located ≈3 mm away from the RTD pinhole, and having spectral response between 800 and 1800 nm with a peak responsivity of ≈0.85 A/W at  =1550 nm. Simultaneous I-V and L-V plots were obtained and are plotted in Fig. 2(a) with positive bias on the top contact (emitter on the bottom). The I-V curve displays a pronounced NDR region having a current peak-to-valley current ratio of 10.7 (typical for In0.53Ga0.47As RTDs). The external quantum efficiency (EQE) was calculated from EQE = e∙IP/(∙IE∙h) where IP is the photodiode dc current and IE the RTD current. The plot of EQE is shown in Fig. 2(b) where we see a very rapid rise with VB, but a maximum value (at VB= 3.0 V) of only ≈2×10-5. To extract the internal quantum efficiency (IQE), we use the expression EQE= c ∙i ∙r ≡ c∙IQE where ci, and r are the optical-coupling, electrical-injection, and radiative recombination efficiencies, respectively [6]. Our separate optical calculations yield c≈3.4×10-4 (limited primarily by the small pinhole) from which we obtain the curve of IQE plotted in Fig. 2(b) (right-hand scale). The maximum value of IQE (again at VB = 3.0 V) is 6.0%. From the implicit definition of IQE in terms of i and r given above, and the fact that the recombination efficiency in In0.53Ga0.47As is likely limited by Auger scattering, this result for IQE suggests that i might be significantly high. To estimate i, we have used the experimental total current of Fig. 2(a), the Kane two-band model of interband tunneling [7] computed in conjunction with a solution to Poisson’s equation across the entire structure, and a rate-equation model of Auger recombination on the emitter side [6] assuming a free-electron density of 2×1018 cm3. We focus on the high-bias regime above VB = 2.5 V of Fig. 2(a) where most of the interband tunneling should occur in the depletion region on the collector side [Jinter,2 in Fig. 1(c)]. And because of the high-quality of the InGaAs/AlAs heterostructure (very few traps or deep levels), most of the holes should reach the emitter side by some combination of drift, diffusion, and tunneling through the valence-band double barriers (Type-I offset) between InGaAs and AlAs. The computed interband current density Jinter is shown in Fig. 3(a) along with the total current density Jtot. At the maximum Jinter (at VB=3.0 V) of 7.4×102 A/cm2, we get i = Jinter/Jtot = 0.18, which is surprisingly high considering there is no p-type doping in the device. When combined with the Auger-limited r of 0.41 and c ≈ 3.4×10-4, we find a model value of IQE = 7.4% in good agreement with experiment. This leads to the model values for EQE plotted in Fig. 2(b) - also in good agreement with experiment. Finally, we address the high Jinter and consider a possible universal nature of the light-emission mechanism. Fig. 3(b) shows the tunneling probability T according to the Kane two-band model in the three materials, In0.53Ga0.47As, GaAs, and GaN, following our observation of a similar electroluminescence mechanism in GaN/AlN RTDs (due to strong polarization field of wurtzite structures) [8]. The expression is Tinter = (2/9)∙exp[(-2 ∙Ug 2 ∙me)/(2h∙P∙E)], where Ug is the bandgap energy, P is the valence-to-conduction-band momentum matrix element, and E is the electric field. Values for the highest calculated internal E fields for the InGaAs and GaN are also shown, indicating that Tinter in those structures approaches values of ~10-5. As shown, a GaAs RTD would require an internal field of ~6×105 V/cm, which is rarely realized in standard GaAs RTDs, perhaps explaining why there have been few if any reports of room-temperature electroluminescence in the GaAs devices. [1] E.R. Brown,et al., Appl. Phys. Lett., vol. 58, 2291, 1991. [5] S. Sze, Physics of Semiconductor Devices, 2nd Ed. 12.2.1 (Wiley, 1981). [2] M. Feiginov et al., Appl. Phys. Lett., 99, 233506, 2011. [6] L. Coldren, Diode Lasers and Photonic Integrated Circuits, (Wiley, 1995). [3] Y. Nishida et al., Nature Sci. Reports, 9, 18125, 2019. [7] E.O. Kane, J. of Appl. Phy 32, 83 (1961). [4] P. Fakhimi, et al., 2019 DRC Conference Digest. [8] T. Growden, et al., Nature Light: Science & Applications 7, 17150 (2018). [5] S. Sze, Physics of Semiconductor Devices, 2nd Ed. 12.2.1 (Wiley, 1981). [6] L. Coldren, Diode Lasers and Photonic Integrated Circuits, (Wiley, 1995). [7] E.O. Kane, J. of Appl. Phy 32, 83 (1961). [8] T. Growden, et al., Nature Light: Science & Applications 7, 17150 (2018).« less
  2. Variations of vertical atmospheric electric field E z have been attributed mainly to meteorological processes. On the other hand, the theory of electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere, between the bottom ionosphere and earth’s surface, predicts two modes, magnetic H (TE) and electric E (TH) modes, where the E-mode has a vertical electric field component, E z . Past attempts to find signatures of ULF (periods from fractions to tens of minutes) disturbances in E z gave contradictory results. Recently, study of ULF disturbances of atmospheric electric field became feasible thanks to project GLOCAEM, which united stations with 1 sec measurements of potential gradient. These data enable us to address the long-standing problem of the coupling between atmospheric electricity and space weather disturbances at ULF time scales. Also, we have reexamined results of earlier balloon-born electric field and ground magnetic field measurements in Antarctica. Transmission of storm sudden commencement (SSC) impulses to lower latitudes was often interpreted as excitation of the electric TH 0 mode, instantly propagating along the ionosphere–ground waveguide. According to this theoretical estimate, even a weak magnetic signature of the E-mode ∼1 nT must be accompanied by a burst of E z well exceeding the atmospheric potential gradient. We havemore »examined simultaneous records of magnetometers and electric field-mills during >50 SSC events in 2007–2019 in search for signatures of E-mode. However, the observed E z disturbance never exceeded background fluctuations ∼10 V/m, much less than expected for the TH 0 mode. We constructed a model of the electromagnetic ULF response to an oscillating magnetospheric field-aligned current incident onto the realistic ionosphere and atmosphere. The model is based on numerical solution of the full-wave equations in the atmospheric-ionospheric collisional plasma, using parameters that were reconstructed using the IRI model. We have calculated the vertical and horizontal distributions of magnetic and electric fields of both H- and E-modes excited by magnetospheric field-aligned currents. The model predicts that the excitation rate of the E-mode by magnetospheric disturbances is low, so only a weak E z response with a magnitude of ∼several V/m will be produced by ∼100 nT geomagnetic disturbance. However, at balloon heights (∼30 km), electric field of the E-mode becomes dominating. Predicted amplitudes of horizontal electric field in the atmosphere induced by Pc5 pulsations and travelling convection vortices, about tens of mV/m, are in good agreement with balloon electric field and ground magnetometer observations.« less
  3. Ion holes refer to the phase-space structures where the trapped ion density is lower at the center than at the rim. These structures are commonly observed in collisionless plasmas, such as the Earth’s magnetosphere. This paper investigates the role of multiple parameters in the generation and structure of ion holes. We find that the ion-to-electron temperature ratio and the background plasma distribution function of the species play a pivotal role in determining the physical plausibility of ion holes. It is found that the range of width and amplitude that defines the existence of ion holes splits into two separate domains as the ion temperature exceeds that of the electrons. Additionally, the present study reveals that the ion holes formed in a plasma with ion temperature higher than that of the electrons have a hump at its center.
  4. Abstract Coulomb collisions provide plasma resistivity and diffusion but in many low-density astrophysical plasmas such collisions between particles are extremely rare. Scattering of particles by electromagnetic waves can lower the plasma conductivity. Such anomalous resistivity due to wave-particle interactions could be crucial to many processes, including magnetic reconnection. It has been suggested that waves provide both diffusion and resistivity, which can support the reconnection electric field, but this requires direct observation to confirm. Here, we directly quantify anomalous resistivity, viscosity, and cross-field electron diffusion associated with lower hybrid waves using measurements from the four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft. We show that anomalous resistivity is approximately balanced by anomalous viscosity, and thus the waves do not contribute to the reconnection electric field. However, the waves do produce an anomalous electron drift and diffusion across the current layer associated with magnetic reconnection. This leads to relaxation of density gradients at timescales of order the ion cyclotron period, and hence modifies the reconnection process.
  5. Context. Magnetic reconnection plays a fundamental role in plasma dynamics under many different conditions, from space and astrophysical environments to laboratory devices. High-resolution in situ measurements from space missions allow naturally occurring reconnection processes to be studied in great detail. Alongside direct measurements, numerical simulations play a key role in the investigation of the fundamental physics underlying magnetic reconnection, also providing a testing ground for current models and theory. The choice of an adequate plasma model to be employed in numerical simulations, while also compromising with computational cost, is crucial for efficiently addressing the problem under study. Aims. We consider a new plasma model that includes a refined electron response within the “hybrid-kinetic framework” (fully kinetic protons and fluid electrons). The extent to which this new model can reproduce a full-kinetic description of 2D reconnection, with particular focus on its robustness during the nonlinear stage, is evaluated. Methods. We perform 2D simulations of magnetic reconnection with moderate guide field by means of three different plasma models: (i) a hybrid-Vlasov-Maxwell model with isotropic, isothermal electrons, (ii) a hybrid-Vlasov-Landau-fluid (HVLF) model where an anisotropic electron fluid is equipped with a Landau-fluid closure, and (iii) a full-kinetic model. Results. When compared to themore »full-kinetic case, the HVLF model effectively reproduces the main features of magnetic reconnection, as well as several aspects of the associated electron microphysics and its feedback onto proton dynamics. This includes the global evolution of magnetic reconnection and the local physics occurring within the so-called electron-diffusion region, as well as the evolution of species’ pressure anisotropy. In particular, anisotropy-driven instabilities (such as fire-hose, mirror, and cyclotron instabilities) play a relevant role in regulating electrons’ anisotropy during the nonlinear stage of magnetic reconnection. As expected, the HVLF model captures all these features, except for the electron-cyclotron instability.« less