Langmuir probe measurements in a time-fluctuating-highly ionized non-equilibrium cutting arc: Analysis of the electron retarding part of the time-averaged current-voltage characteristic of the probe

Prevosto, L.; Kelly, H.; Mancinelli, B.
December 2013
Review of Scientific Instruments;Dec2013, Vol. 84 Issue 12, p123506
Academic Journal
This work describes the application of Langmuir probe diagnostics to the measurement of the electron temperature in a time-fluctuating-highly ionized, non-equilibrium cutting arc. The electron retarding part of the time-averaged current-voltage characteristic of the probe was analysed, assuming that the standard exponential expression describing the electron current to the probe in collision-free plasmas can be applied under the investigated conditions. A procedure is described which allows the determination of the errors introduced in time-averaged probe data due to small-amplitude plasma fluctuations. It was found that the experimental points can be gathered into two well defined groups allowing defining two quite different averaged electron temperature values. In the low-current region the averaged characteristic was not significantly disturbed by the fluctuations and can reliably be used to obtain the actual value of the averaged electron temperature. In particular, an averaged electron temperature of 0.98 ± 0.07 eV (= 11400 ± 800 K) was found for the central core of the arc (30 A) at 3.5 mm downstream from the nozzle exit. This average included not only a time-average over the time fluctuations but also a spatial-average along the probe collecting length. The fitting of the high-current region of the characteristic using such electron temperature value together with the corrections given by the fluctuation analysis showed a relevant departure of local thermal equilibrium in the arc core.


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