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Electron energy distribution function in a low-power Hall thruster discharge and near-field plume

Abstract : Electron temperature and plasma density, as well as the electron energy distribution function (EEDF), have been obtained inside and outside the dielectric channel of a 200 W permanent magnet Hall thruster. Measurements were carried out by means of a cylindrical Langmuir probe mounted onto a compact fast moving translation stage. The 3D particle-in cell numerical simulations complement experiments. The model accounts for the crossed electric and magnetic field configuration in a weakly collisional regime where only electrons are magnetized. Since only the electron dynamics is of interest in this study, an artificial mass of ions corresponding to mi = 30 000me was used to ensure ions could be assumed at rest. The simulation domain is located at the thruster exit plane and does not include the cathode. The measured EEDF evidences a high-energy electron population that is superimposed onto the low energy bulk population outside the channel. Inside the channel, the EEDF is close to Maxwellian. Both the experimental and numerical EEDF depart from an equilibrium distribution at the channel exit plane, a region of high magnetic field. We therefore conclude that the fast electron group found in the experiment corresponds to the electrons emitted by the external cathode that reach the thruster discharge without experiencing collision events.
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Submitted on : Monday, March 18, 2019 - 4:20:34 PM
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M. Tichý, A. Pétin, P. Kudrna, M. Horký, S. Mazouffre. Electron energy distribution function in a low-power Hall thruster discharge and near-field plume. Physics of Plasmas, American Institute of Physics, 2018, 25 (6), pp.061205. ⟨10.1063/1.5017578⟩. ⟨hal-02071675⟩



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