Study of ion flow dynamics in an inertial electrostatic confinement device through sequential grid construction

Murali, S. Krupakar; Kulcinski, G. L.; Santarius, J. F.
December 2008
Physics of Plasmas;Dec2008, Vol. 15 Issue 12, p122702
Academic Journal
Experiments were performed to understand the dynamics of the ion flow in an inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC) device. This was done by monitoring the fusion rate as the symmetry of the grid was increased starting with a single loop all the way until the entire grid is constructed. The fusion rate was observed to increase with grid symmetry and eventually saturate. A single loop grid was observed to generate a cylindrical (∼line) fusion source. The ion flow distribution was measured by introducing fine wires across a single loop of the grid in the form of a chord of a circle (chord wires). This study revealed that with increased symmetry of the cathode grid wires the convergence of the ions improves. The chord wires provided electrons for ionization even at low pressures (∼6.67 mPa) and helped sustain the plasma. The impinging ions heat these wires locally and the temperature of the wires was measured using an infrared thermometer that was used to understand the ion flow distribution across the cathode grid. The presence of the grid wires seems to affect the fusion rate more drastically than previously thought (was assumed to be uniform around the central grid). Most of the fusion reactions were observed to occur in the ion microchannels that form in gaps between the cathode wires. This work helps understand the fusion source regimes and calibrate the IEC device.


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