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Published August 2016 | Published
Journal Article Open

Emission and afterglow properties of an expanding RF plasma with nonuniform neutral gas density


We describe some notable aspects of the light emission and afterglow properties in pulsed, high-density (10^(18)–10^(20) m^(−3) argon inductively coupled discharges initiated following fast gas injection. The plasma was created in a long, narrow discharge tube and then expanded downstream of the radiofrequency (RF) antenna into a large chamber. Fast camera images of the expanding plasma revealed a multi-phase time-dependent emission pattern that did not follow the ion density distribution. Dramatic differences in visible brightness were observed between discharges with and without an externally applied magnetic field. These phenomena were studied by tracking excited state populations using passive emission spectroscopy and are discussed in terms of the distinction between ionizing and recombining phase plasmas. Additionally, a method is presented for inferring the unknown neutral gas pressure in the discharge tube from the time-dependent visible and infrared emission measured by a simple photodiode placed near the antenna. In magnetized discharges created with fast gas injection, the downstream ion density rose by Δn_i ∼10^(18) m^(−3) in the first ∼100 μs after the RF power was turned off. The conditions conducive to this afterglow density rise are investigated in detail, and the effect is tentatively attributed to pooling ionization.

Additional Information

© 2016 AIP Publishing LLC. (Received 27 March 2016; accepted 21 July 2016; published online 5 August 2016) This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Fusion Energy Sciences under Award Nos. DE-FG02-04ER54755 and DE-SC0010471 and by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 1059519. V. H. Chaplin acknowledges support by the ORISE Fusion Energy Sciences Graduate Fellowship.

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October 20, 2023