Measurements of ion velocity and wave propagation in a hollow cathode plume

TitleMeasurements of ion velocity and wave propagation in a hollow cathode plume
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsDodson, Christopher A., Benjamin A. Jorns, and Richard E. Wirz
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Start Page065079
Date Published06/2019
AbstractThe mechanism responsible for the production of energetic ions in the plume of hollow cathodes for electric propulsion is still an open issue. These ions are of concern to cathode and thruster lifetime, particularly for cathodes operating at high (>20 A) discharge currents. Recent theoretical and experimental investigations suggest that there is a correlation between ion energy gain and ion acoustic turbulence. In this paper we present measurements of the evolution of the ion velocity distribution function in the near plume of a 100 A-class hollow cathode, operated in a regime in which the dominant mode is ion acoustic turbulence. Ion flow and thermal properties were related to measurements of the background plasma, fluctuation spectra, and dispersion relations obtained from an array of Langmuir probes. We found ions to flow outward from the cathode and accelerate downstream, to supersonic speeds, approximately aligned with the acoustic wave group velocity vectors. The directions of the ion flow and wave propagation were similar for a range of discharge currents and mass flow rates in the jet region of the plume. One operating condition showed a significant temperature increase, also in the direction of acoustic wave propagation, corresponding to the highest wave energy condition. These results are interpreted in the context of ion acoustic turbulence as a contributing mechanism for ion energy gain.

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