Experimental and theoretical study on effects of magnetic field topology on near wall conductivity in a Hall thruster

Daren Yu; Hong Li; Zhiwen Wu; Zhongxi Ning; Guojun Yan
October 2009
Physics of Plasmas;Oct2009, Vol. 16 Issue 10, p103504
Academic Journal
An experiment has been made to investigate the effect of curved magnetic field topology on near wall conductivity in the ion acceleration region of Hall thrusters. The experimental results show that the electron current due to near wall conductivity is of the minimum in the case of focused topology and increases in the cases of both less-focus and over-focus topologies. This finding cannot be explained properly by the magnetic mirror effect, which is the one and only reported effect related to the magnetic field curvature so far. Based on the analysis of interaction between the plasma and the wall, a new physical effect is proposed. The difference of magnetic field topology causes different electric potential distribution, leads to different ion flux to the wall, results in the change of sheath property and secondary electron emission, and finally affects the electron current due to near wall conductivity. This effect is further justified by the agreement between the experiment and simulation which is performed with a particle-in-cell model. Therefore, we conclude that the ion flow injection is a significant effect to near wall conductivity in the scope of curved magnetic field topology besides the magnetic mirror effect. Moreover, we find that the focus topology of magnetic field is favorable to obtain a high thruster performance from both the ion acceleration aspect and the electron conduction aspect and so is useful practically for thruster optimization.


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