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Chair experimental physics V "atom and laser physics" at the faculty of physics and astronomy at Ruhr University Bochum

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PIC/MCC simulation for a ns-pulsed glow discharge in nitrogen at sub-atmospheric pressure and analysis of its quasi-steady state physics

The present study investigates the physics of a nanosecond-pulsed microplasma operated at a pressure of 200 mbar with the help of a particle-in-cell simulation with Monte Carlo treatment of collision (PIC/MCC) and (semi-)analytical models. The discharge is ignited in a 1 mm gap between two parallel molybdenum electrodes by applying a voltage in the kV-range for several tens to hundreds of nanoseconds. A PIC/MCC simulation code is developed in order to describe the experiment performed under identical conditions. The simulation includes the external electrical circuit to perform ab-initio calculations of the complete experimental setup. Notable features of the PIC/MCC are (i) the adjustment of super-particle weights to reduce the computational load during drastic changes of the plasma density, which reaches values up to a few
, and (ii) the inclusion of dissociative recombination of the
ions, which is the key loss process for the charge carriers in the plasma bulk regions. The current and voltage waveforms obtained from the simulation are compared to the experimentally measured ones and good agreement is found. After ignition, the discharge establishes a quasi-steady state exhibiting spatial features similar to a conventional DC glow discharge. Using the PIC/MCC results, reasonable approximations are identified, which allow the development of various analytical fluid models for the individual plasma regions. These models are able to reproduce the key features of the discharge in agreement with the PIC/MCC results. The simplified models for the different discharge regions can be combined to describe the global behaviour of the discharge and—in a next step—might be used to develop computationally efficient global chemistry models that account for the different power dissipation mechanisms along the discharge gap.

Release Date
Permanent Identifier (URI)
Is supplementing
Plasma Source Name
Plasma Source Application
Plasma Source Specification
Plasma Source Properties
HV pulsed discharge with pulse duration of 150 ns (in the experiment, the simulation only follows the first 50 ns of the discharge pulse). Two molybdenum electrodes with a surface area of 1 mm x 20 mm and an inter-electrode gap of 1 mm are used.
Plasma Medium Name
Plasma Medium Properties
pressure: 200 mbar gas flow rate: 20 sccm gas temperature: room temperature
Contact Name
Kuhfeld, Jan
Contact Email
Plasma Diagnostic Properties
PIC/MCC simulation tracking electrons and the two ion species N2+ and N4+. Experimental diagnostics consist of the time-resolved and synchronized voltage over the discharge gap and the current through the discharge (see circuit schematic in the publication).
Public Access Level
Plasma Diagnostic Name
Funding Agency