Theory of the acoustic instability and behavior of the phase velocity of acoustic waves in a weakly ionized plasma

O. S. Torosyan, A. R. Mkrtchyan

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The amplification of acoustic waves due to the transfer of thermal energy from electrons to the neutral component of a glow discharge plasma is studied theoretically. It is shown that, in order for acoustic instability (sound amplification) to occur, the amount of energy transferred should exceed the threshold energy, which depends on the plasma parameters and the acoustic wave frequency. The energy balance equation for an electron gas in the positive column of a glow discharge is analyzed for conditions typical of experiments in which acoustic wave amplification has been observed. Based on this analysis, one can affirm that, first, the energy transferred to neutral gas in elastic electron-atom collisions is substantially lower than the threshold energy for acoustic wave amplification and, second, that the energy transferred from electrons to neutral gas in inelastic collisions is much higher than that transferred in elastic collisions and thus may exceed the threshold energy. It is also shown that, for amplification to occur, there should exist some heat dissipation mechanism more efficient than gas heat conduction. It is suggested that this may be convective radial mixing within a positive column due to acoustic streaming in the field of an acoustic wave. The features of the phase velocity of sound waves in the presence of acoustic instability are investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-354
Number of pages9
JournalPlasma Physics Reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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