Alignment of dust particles by ion drag forces in subsonic flows

Piel, Alexander
July 2011
Physics of Plasmas;Jul2011, Vol. 18 Issue 7, p073704
Academic Journal
The role of ion drag forces for the alignment of dust particles is studied for subsonic flows. While alignment by wake-field attraction is a well known mechanism for supersonic flows, it is argued here that ion-scattering forces become more important in subsonic ion flows. A model of non-overlapping collisions is introduced and numerical results are discussed. For typical conditions of dusty plasma experiments, alignment by drag forces is found strong enough to overcome the destabilizing force from Coulomb repulsion between dust particles. It turns out that the major contribution to the horizontal restoring force originates from the transverse momentum transfer, which is usually neglected in ion drag force calculations because of an assumed rotational symmetry of the flow.


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