Fast and interrupted expansion in cyclic void growth in dusty plasma

F.M.J.H. Wetering, van de, R.J.C. Brooimans, S. Nijdam, J. Beckers, G.M.W. Kroesen

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Low-pressure acetylene plasmas are able to spontaneously form dust particles. This will result in a dense cloud of solid particles that is levitated in the plasma. The formed particles can grow up to micrometers. We observed a spontaneous interruption in the expansion of the so-called dust void. A dust void is a macroscopic region in the plasma that is free of nanoparticles. The phenomenon is periodical and reproducible. We refer to the expansion interruption as 'hiccup'. The expanding void is an environment in which a new cycle of dust particle formation can start. At a certain moment in time, this cycle reaches the (sudden) coagulation phase and as a result the void will temporarily shrink. To substantiate this reasoning, the electron density is determined non-intrusively using microwave cavity resonance spectroscopy. Moreover, video imaging of laser light scattering of the dust particles provides their spatial distribution. The emission intensity of a single argon transition is measured similarly. Our results support the aforementioned hypothesis for what happens during the void hiccup. The void dynamics preceding the hiccup are modeled using a simple analytical model for the two dominant forces (ion drag and electric) working on a nanoparticle in a plasma. The model results qualitatively reproduce the measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)035204
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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