A microwave interferometer for small and tenuous plasma density measurements

Tudisco, O.; Lucca Fabris, A.; Falcetta, C.; Accatino, L.; De Angelis, R.; Manente, M.; Ferri, F.; Florean, M.; Neri, C.; Mazzotta, C.; Pavarin, D.; Pollastrone, F.; Rocchi, G.; Selmo, A.; Tasinato, L.; Trezzolani, F.; Tuccillo, A. A.
March 2013
Review of Scientific Instruments;Mar2013, Vol. 84 Issue 3, p033505
Academic Journal
The non-intrusive density measurement of the thin plasma produced by a mini-helicon space thruster (HPH.com project) is a challenge, due to the broad density range (between 1016 m-3 and 1019 m-3) and the small size of the plasma source (2 cm of diameter). A microwave interferometer has been developed for this purpose. Due to the small size of plasma, the probing beam wavelength must be small (λ = 4 mm), thus a very high sensitivity interferometer is required in order to observe the lower density values. A low noise digital phase detector with a phase noise of 0.02° has been used, corresponding to a density of 0.5 × 1016 m-3.


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