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Title: Arc hopping dynamics induced by interfacial negative differential resistance

Pattern formation in plasma–solid interaction represents a great research challenge in many applications from plasma etching to surface treatment, whereby plasma attachments on electrodes (arc roots) are constricted to self-organized spots. Gliding arc discharge in a Jacob’s Ladder, exhibiting hopping dynamics, provides a unique window to probe the nature of pattern formation in plasma–surface interactions. In this work, we find that the existence of negative differential resistance (NDR) across the sheath is responsible for the observed hopping pattern. Due to NDR, the current density and potential drop behave as activator and inhibitor, the dynamic interactions of which govern the surface current density re-distribution and the formation of structured spots. In gliding arc discharges, new arc roots can form separately in front of the existing root(s), which happens periodically to constitute the stepwise hopping. From the instability phase-diagram analysis, the phenomenon that arc attachments tend to constrict itself spontaneously in the NDR regime is well explained. Furthermore, we demonstrate via a comprehensive magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) computation that the existence of a sheath NDR can successfully reproduce the arc hopping as observed in experiments. Therefore, this work uncovers the essential role of sheath NDR in the plasma–solid surface pattern formation and opens more » up a hitherto unexplored area of research for manipulating the plasma–solid interactions.

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PNAS Nexus
Oxford University Press
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National Science Foundation
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