Cesium vapor thermionic converters are an attractive method of converting high-temperature heat directly to electricity, but theoretical descriptions of the systems have been difficult due to the multi-step ionization of Cs through inelastic electron–neutral collisions. This work presents particle-in-cell simulations of these converters, using a direct simulation Monte Carlo collision model to track 52 excited states of Cs. Here, these simulations show the dominant role of multi-step ionization, which also varies significantly based on both the applied voltage bias and pressure. The electron energy distribution functions are shown to be highly non-Maxwellian in the cases analyzed here. A comparison with previous approaches is presented, and large differences are found in ionization rates due especially to the fact that previous approaches have assumed Maxwellian electron distributions. Finally, an open question regarding the nature of the plasma sheaths in the obstructed regime is discussed. The one-dimensional simulations did not produce stable obstructed regime operation and thereby do not support the double-sheath hypothesis.
Plasma etching of semiconductors is an essential process in the production of microchips which enable nearly every aspect of modern life. Two frequencies of applied voltage are often used to provide control of both the ion fluxes and energy distribution.
Understanding the role of physical processes contributing to breakdown is critical for many applications in which breakdown is undesirable, such as capacitors, and applications in which controlled breakdown is intended, such as plasma medicine, lightning protection, and materials processing. The electron emission from the cathode is a critical source of electrons which then undergo impact ionization to produce electrical breakdown. In this study, the role of secondary electron yields due to photons (γ ph) and ions (γ i) in direct current breakdown is investigated using a particle-in-cell direct simulation Monte Carlo model. The plasma studied is a one-dimensional discharge in 50 Torr of pure helium with a platinum cathode, gap size of 1.15 cm, and voltages of 1.2-1.8 kV. The current traces are compared with experimental measurements. Larger values of γ ph generally result in a faster breakdown, while larger values of γ i result in a larger maximum current. The 58.4 nm photons emitted from He(21P) are the primary source of electrons at the cathode before the cathode fall is developed. Of the values of γ ph and γ i investigated, those which provide the best agreement with the experimental current measurements are γ ph = 0.005 and γ i = 0.01. These values are significantly lower than those in the literature for pristine platinum or for a graphitic carbon film which we speculate may cover the platinum. This difference is in part due to the limitations of a one-dimensional model but may also indicate surface conditions and exposure to a plasma can have a significant effect on the secondary electron yields. The effects of applied voltage and the current produced by a UV diode which was used to initiate the discharge, are also discussed.
The optimal use of atmospheric pressure plasma jets (APPJs) for treatment of surfaces-inorganic, organic and liquid-depends on being able to control the flow of plasma-generated reactive species onto the surface. The typical APPJ is a rare gas mixture (RGM) flowed through a tube to which voltage is applied, producing an RGM plasma plume that extends into the ambient air. The RGM plasma plume is guided by a surrounding shroud of air due to the higher electric field required for an ionization wave (IW) to propagate into the air. The mixing of the ambient air with the RGM plasma plume then determines the production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS). The APPJ is usually oriented perpendicular to the surface being treated. However, the angle of the APPJ with respect to the surface may be a method to control the production of reactive species to the surface due to the change in APPJ propagation properties and the resulting gas dynamics. In this paper, we discuss results from computational and experimental investigations addressing two points-propagation of IWs in APPJs with and without a guiding gas shroud as a function of angle of the APPJ with respect to the surface; and the use of this angle to control plasma activation of thin water layers. We found that APPJs propagating out of the plasma tube into a same-gas environment lack any of the directional properties of shroud-guided jets, and largely follow electric field lines as the angle of the plasma tube is changed. Guided APPJs propagate coaxially with the tube as the angle is changed, and turn perpendicularly towards the surface only a few mm above the surface. The angle of the APPJ produces different gas dynamic distributions, which enable some degree of control over the content of RONS transferred to thin water layers.
Activation of liquids with atmospheric pressure plasmas is being investigated for environmental and biomedical applications. When activating the liquid using gas plasma produced species (as opposed to plasmas sustained in the liquid), a rate limiting step is transport of these species into the liquid. To first order, the efficiency of activating the liquid is improved by increasing the ratio of the surface area of the water in contact with the plasma compared to its volume—often called the surface-to-volume ratio (SVR). Maximizing the SVR then motivates the plasma treatment of thin films of liquids. In this paper, results are discussed from a computational investigation using a global model of atmospheric pressure plasma treatment of thin water films by a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) sustained in different gases (Ar, He, air, N2, O2). The densities of reactive species in the plasma activated water (PAW) are evaluated. The residence time of the water in contact with the plasma is increased by recirculating the PAW in plasma reactor. Longer lived species such as H2O2aq and NO3-aq accumulate over time (aq denotes an aqueous species). DBDs sustained in Ar and He are the most efficient at producing H2O2aq, DBDs sustained in argon produces the largest density of NO3-aq with the lowest pH, and discharges sustained in O2 and air produce the highest densities of O3aq. Finally, comparisons to experiments by others show agreement in the trends in densities in PAW including O3aq, OHaq, H2O2aq and NO3-aq, and highlight the importance of controlling desolvation of species from the activated water.