What is it about?

Low-temperature plasma technologies in which a partially magnetized plasma is subject to perpendicular electric and magnetic fields, such as the magnetrons for material processing and Hall thruster for spacecraft plasma propulsion, are today of high interest from both the applied and scientific perspectives. In this work, we have carried out an extensive numerical parametric study of the effects that the magentic field configuration, electron emission from the bounding walls, and the plasma pressure have on the characteristics of the instabilities and the electron dynamics in a two-dimensional plasma setup, representative of the radial-azimuthal cross-section of a Hall thruster.

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Why is it important?

The article reports a comprehensive paramteric study, not done previously at this breadth, into the influence of several physical factors on the azimuthal instabilities and electrons' transport in a cross-field configuration, representative of a radial-azimuthal section of a Hall thruster. Particularly, our investigation of the effects of magentic field gradient has revealed previously unknown physics regarding the Hall thrusters with a shielding magnetic field topology. We also observed substantial variations in the dynamics and the characteristics of the instabilities and transport when the plasma conditions change due to the studied factors. The gathered insights are readily applicable to other important ExB plasma technologies and configurations.


A point that I believe shall be highlighted is that central to this effort has been the novel, computationally efficient reduced order PIC scheme, developed at Imperial Plasma Propulsion Laboratory, that enabled performing multiple studies over a large parameter space and for rather extended durations. The interesting insights derived from this effort have confirmed the power of the reduced-order PIC to be readily used as a tool for the verification of the theoretical predictions and/or to derive new theories to explain the nature of the physical phenomena of interest based on a more comprehensive set of observations regarding their variations over a wide range of plasma conditions. This is a desired capability that the significant computational cost of the traditional fully multi-dimensional PIC codes had so far hindered achieving.

Maryam Reza
Imperial College London

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Parametric investigation of azimuthal instabilities and electron transport in a radial-azimuthal E × B plasma configuration, Journal of Applied Physics, March 2023, American Institute of Physics,
DOI: 10.1063/5.0138223.
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