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Instabilities and pattern formation in low-temperature plasmas

Instabilities and pattern formation in low-temperature plasmas

Instabilities and pattern formation in low-temperature

Instabilities and pattern formation in low-temperature plasmas D. Mackey 1 , L. Plantié 1 and M.M. Turner 2 September 16, 2004 1 School of Mathematical Sciences, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland 2 School of Physical Sciences, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland Abstract This paper is concerned with a dynamical systems analysis of an instability occurring in a cylindrical high-frequency plasma discharge. Stationary, spatially periodic modulations of the plasma density and temperature have been observed in experiments and reproduced in kinetic simulations. A macroscopic model is proposed in order to determine parameter ranges for which these plasma “striations” may form. The model consists of two nonlinear, coupled partial differential equations which describe ambipolar diffusion of electrons and ions and electron energy transport. We emphasise the importance of a particular thermoelectric transport coefficient, usually neglected in fluid models of plasma discharges, which proves essential in describing the pattern formation mechanism. 1 1 Introduction Instabilities are a common occurrence in weakly ionized plasmas and have been most often studied in the context of direct current discharges in cylindrical geometries, [1]. Instabilities related to the balance of charged particle production 1 This work was supported by the National Centre for Plasma Science and Technology 1

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