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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Chunpei Cai

Committee Member 1

Kazuya Tajiri

Committee Member 2

Seong-Young Lee

Committee Member 3

Veronica Webster


This dissertation consists of four parts.

First, a versatile full scale parallel Particle-In-Cell (PIC) package is developed with modern software design pattern and a novel algorithm for moving particles among different neighboring computing nodes. Benchmark test case is used to validate the package.

Then four type of plasma flows with or without relative motion to positive probes are simulated with the above package. There are fundamental plasma physics which are not clearly investigated yet and there are also important applications in space engineering, for example, the current collections for a tethering cable. There are cases which were investigated by other researchers. Our results are different and more refined, with interesting flowfield patterns. Currents due to collected electrons are also obtained and compared with past results. There are certain discrepancies and we believe they are due to different boundary condition treatments adopted among different studies.

The third part of this work is about investigations on fundamental, semi-constitutional relations for unsteady plasma potential and electron temperature. The electron energy equation, generalized Ohm’s law, and the Maxwell’s electric-magnetic field relations are adopted during this investigation. With reasonable assumptions, concise semi-analytical solutions are obtained, and numerical simulations with the hybrid PIC method are used to simulate plasma plume flows from a Hall effect thruster and the results are used to explain the electron temperature-potential relations. Due to the complex physics in plasma flows, there are rare analytical expressions obtained in the literature. As such, we believe this part work is very seminal to the field.

The fourth part of work is about theoretical and numerical investigations on three-dimensional, highly rarefied round jet impinging at an inclined rectangular plate. Theoretical solutions to the flowfield and surface properties are obtained. Several direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) simulations are performed to validate the theoretical results. The obtained formulas can provide fast and accurate approximation on surface loads, as well as flowfield properties.