Self-organization of dust grains into stable filamentary dust structures (or “chains”) largely depends on dynamic interactions between individual charged dust grains and complex electric potential arising from the distribution of charges within a local plasma environment. Recent studies have shown that the positive column of the gas discharge plasma in the Plasmakristall-4 (PK-4) experiment at the International Space Station supports the presence of fast-moving ionization waves, which lead to variations of plasma parameters by up to an order of magnitude from the average background values. The highly variable environment resulting from ionization waves may have interesting implications for the dynamics and self-organization of dust particles, particularly concerning the formation and stability of dust chains. Here, we investigate the electric potential surrounding dust chains in the PK-4 experiment by employing a molecular dynamics model of the dust and ions with boundary conditions supplied by a particle-in-cell with Monte Carlo collision simulation of the ionization waves. The model is used to examine the effects of the plasma conditions within different regions of the ionization wave and compare the resulting dust structure to that obtained by employing the time-averaged plasma conditions. The comparison between simulated dust chains and experimental data from the PK-4more »
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- Journal of Plasma Physics
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- National Science Foundation
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Influence of temporal variations in plasma conditions on the electric potential near self-organized dust chains
The PK-4 system is a micro-gravity dusty plasma experiment currently in operation on-board the International Space Station. The experiment utilizes a long DC discharge in neon or argon gases. We apply our 2D particle-in-cell with Monte Carlo collisions discharge simulation to compute local plasma parameters that serve as input data for future dust dynamics models. The simulation includes electrons, Ne+ ions, and Nem metastable atoms in neon gas and their collisions at solid surfaces including secondary electron emission and glass wall charging. On the time scale of the on-board optical imaging, the positive column appears stable and homogeneous. On the other hand, our simulations show that on microsecond time scales the positive column is highly inhomogeneous: ionization waves with phase velocities in the range between 500 m s−1 and 1200 m s−1 dominate the structure. In these waves, the electric field and charged particle densities can reach amplitudes up to 10 times of their average value. Our experiments on ground-based PK-4 replica systems fully support the numerical findings. In the experiment, the direction of the DC current can be alternated, which has been found to favor dust particle chain formation. We discuss possible mechanisms for how the highly oscillatory plasmamore »
The excitation of low frequency dust acoustic (or dust density) waves in a dusty plasma can be driven by the flow of ions relative to dust. We consider the nonlinear development of the ion–dust streaming instability in a highly collisional plasma, where the ion and dust collision frequencies are a significant fraction of their corresponding plasma frequencies. This collisional parameter regime may be relevant to dusty plasma experiments under microgravity or ground-based conditions with high gas pressure. One-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations are presented, which take into account collisions of ions and dust with neutrals, and a background electric field that drives the ion flow. Ion flow speeds of the order of a few times thermal are considered. Waveforms of the dust density are found to have broad troughs and sharp crests in the nonlinear phase. The results are compared with the nonlinear development of the ion–dust streaming instability in a plasma with low collisionality.
Abstract This article is devoted to the memory of Yuri P Raizer, who passed away in 2021. He left a noticeable trace in gas discharge physics. The principle of minimal power (the state that requires minimal power is most probable) is thoroughly used in his books. Although the fundamental laws of physics do not imply this ad hoc principle, a detailed analysis of underlying phenomena can often reveal why nature prefers this path. Raizer illustrated this principle for plasma stratification, formation of electrode spots, discharge constriction, the shape of an arc channel, etc. We argue that the nonlinearity of equations describing gas discharges can often justify the realization of a plasma state maintained at minimal electric power. This nonlinearity appears because small groups of energetic electrons often control the ionization processes. The number of these electrons depends strongly on the ratio of the electric field to gas density, E / N . Under certain conditions, the ionization rate can also depend nonlinearly on electron density due to stepwise ionization and Coulomb collisions. We use the principle of minimal power to illustrate some of Raizer’s contributions to gas discharge physics from a single point of view. We demonstrate that nonlinearity ofmore »
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