Electron velocity distribution in a weakly ionized plasma with an external electric field

A. V. Rokhlenko, J. L. Lebowitz

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Abstract

The velocity distribution f(v) of the electron component of a weakly ionized plasma is investigated in a spatially homogeneous external electric field E. Both static and time-dependent E are considered. The time evolution of f is described by a Boltzmann equation in which the ions and neutral particles are assumed to have a Maxwellian distribution with a priori specified temperatures while the electron-electron interactions are given by a Landau-type collision integral. The (approximate) solution scheme used to solve this equation for a stationary f (in a constant field) is found to have nonunique solutions for certain ranges of E, in agreement with that found in earlier investigations using a different method of solution. These results are interpreted to correspond to hysteresis effects when the field is changing very slowly: with the true stable solution undergoing a very sharp changeover, possibly a discontinuous transition, at a certain critical E. This can be understood intuitively as a transition in the stationary state of the electrons from a low-energy regime dominated by strong coupling to the ions to a high-energy regime dominated by electron-electron and electron-neutral collisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1766-1773
Number of pages8
JournalPhysics of Fluids B
Volume5
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1993

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes

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