Transit time instabilities in an inverted fireball. I. Basic properties

Stenzel, R. L.; Gruenwald, J.; Fonda, B.; Ionita, C.; Schrittwieser, R.
January 2011
Physics of Plasmas;Jan2011, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p012104
Academic Journal
A new fireball configuration has been developed which produces vircator-like instabilities. Electrons are injected through a transparent anode into a spherical plasma volume. Strong high-frequency oscillations with period corresponding to the electron transit time through the sphere are observed. The frequency is below the electron plasma frequency, hence does not involve plasma eigenmodes. The sphere does not support electromagnetic eigenmodes at the instability frequency. However, the rf oscillations on the gridded anode create electron bunches which reinforce the grid oscillation after one transit time or rf period, which leads to an absolute instability. Various properties of the instability are demonstrated and differences to the sheath-plasma instability are pointed out, one of which is a relatively high conversion efficiency from dc to rf power. Nonlinear effects are described in a companion paper [R. L. Stenzel et al., Phys. Plasmas 18, 012105 (2011)].


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