Supersonic plasma flows with densities of 1013-1016 cm-3 find application in various fields of physics and technology such as surface modification, simulation of plasma impact in fusion facilities, and laboratory studies of space phenomena. The work outlined here describes a pulsed vacuum arc source of supersonic dense metal plasma flow. The design, working principle, features of the power supply circuit, and main parameters of the plasma source in relation to the parameter of the vacuum arc pulse are discussed. Flows of ionized aluminum, copper, tantalum, and molybdenum were investigated. At a vacuum arc current amplitude of 25 kA, the source generated a plasma with a density of 3 × 1015 cm-3. The ion velocity in the plasma flow and the ion charge state composition were measured. For an aluminum cathode, we have carried out measurements of the macroparticle fraction and the erosion rate. This supersonic metal ion plasma flow source is primarily designed for studying the flow interaction with an inhomogeneous magnetic field, with simultaneous application of electron cyclotron resonance irradiation from high-power pulsed gyrotrons, but may also find other applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas