Assessment of plasma impedance probe for measuring electron density and collision frequency in a plasma with spatial and temporal gradients

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Numerical simulations and experimental measurements were combined to determine the ability of a plasma impedance probe (PIP) to measure plasma density and electron collision frequency in a plasma containing spatial gradients as well as time-varying oscillations in the plasma density. A PIP is sensitive to collision frequency through the width of the parallel resonance in the Re[Z]-vs.-frequency characteristic, while also being sensitive to electron density through the zero-crossing of the Im[Z]-vs.-frequency characteristic at parallel resonance. Simulations of the probe characteristic in a linear plasma gradient indicated that the broadening of Re[Z] due to the spatial gradient obscured the broadening due to electron collision frequency, preventing a quantitative measurement of the absolute collision frequency for gradients considered in this study. Simulation results also showed that the PIP is sensitive to relative changes in electron collision frequency in a spatial density gradient, but a second broadening effect due to time-varying oscillations made collision frequency measurements impossible. The time-varying oscillations had the effect of causing multiple zero-crossings in Im[Z] at parallel resonance. Results of experiments and simulations indicated that the lowest-frequency zero-crossing represented the lowest plasma density in the oscillations and the highest-frequency zero-crossing represented the highest plasma density in the oscillations, thus the PIP probe was found to be an effective tool to measure both the average plasma density as well as the maximum and minimum densities due to temporal oscillations. © 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.

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Physics of Plasmas