Joel L. Lebowitz and Alexander Rokhlenko
Current-Voltage Characteristic of a Partially Ionized Plasma in
Cylindrical Geometry
(51K, TeX)
ABSTRACT. The properties of a partially ionized plasma in a long cylindrical
tube subject to a uniform axial electric field are investigated. The
plasma is maintained by an external ionizing source balanced by bulk
and surface recombinations. Collisions between neutrals, whose density
greatly exceeds the density of charged particles, and of neutrals with
ions are sufficiently effective for their velocity distribution to be
close to a Maxwellian with the same uniform temperature, independent
of the external field. The behavior of the plasma is described by a
collisional two-fluid scheme with charge neutrality in the interior of
the tube. Approximate nonlinear equations for the hydrodynamical
moments are obtained from a Boltzmann equation in which
electron-neutral, electron-ion and electron-electron collisions are
all important. It is found that under certain circumstances the
current, and the temperature of the electrons undergo a drastic
change, with hysteresis, as the electric field is varied.