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Suggested Citation:"Mechanical Probes." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
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Page 141

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BASIC PLASMA EXPERIMENTS 141 cent" which were developed 30 years ago. These devices generate a magnetized plasma column, with a diameter of about 10–20 ion Larmor radii, that is well suited for the study of such phenomena as drift waves and ion cyclotron modes. The plasmas in Q machines are such that the electrons and ions have equal temperatures (i.e., Te = Ti). Consequently, these devices are not appropriate for the study of ion acoustic waves, which are strongly damped in such plasmas. The use of large numbers of small, permanent magnets to produce surface magnetic confinement, together with a variety of different electron sources, has provided a way to produce unmagnetized, collisionless plasmas that are both isotropic and quiescent. Such devices have Te/Ti 10, and they are well suited to the study of the linear and nonlinear behavior of ion acoustic waves. These plasma devices have also permitted experiments on plasma sheaths and on a variety of other linear and nonlinear waves. Combination of two or three of these plasmas has resulted in so-called double and triple plasma devices that have been used to study beam-plasma interactions, solitons, and ele ctrostatic shocks. In the past decade, dc discharges based on oxide-coated cathodes have resulted in the ability to produce large, quiescent, magnetized plasma columns, of the order of 50 cm in diameter (which is equivalent to 500 ion Larmor radii) and 10 m in length. Efficient, microwave-generated plasmas are now also conveniently available. Electron cyclotron resonance sources provide another way to study highly collisional plasma phenomena, with ion-neutral mean free paths of several centimeters or less. Inductive sources have recently shown considerable promise in producing uniform, unmagnetized and magnetized plasmas in the pressure range greater than 5 mtorr and, for example, have already been employed in studies of double layers. During the last few years, "helicon" sources (bounded whistler-wave sources) have produced steady-state plasmas with densities as high as 1014 cm-3. Such sources, which operate between the lower hybrid and the electron cyclotron frequency, do not have a high-density cutoff; they are therefore useful in producing plasmas with high densities. Plasmas consisting of negative and positive ions, with very low concentrations of electrons, have also been created, both with and without a magnetic field. The production of these plasmas relies on the large electron- attachment coefficient of gases such as SF6 for cold electrons. For sufficiently low values of the electron density, waves and instabilities in these plasmas can differ qualitatively from those in electron-ion plasmas, since the dominant charge species now have comparable masses. Mechanical Probes Refinement of probe techniques has occurred hand in hand with plasma source development. These include directional velocity analyzers (with resolu

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Plasma science is the study of ionized states of matter. This book discusses the field's potential contributions to society and recommends actions that would optimize those contributions. It includes an assessment of the field's scientific and technological status as well as a discussion of broad themes such as fundamental plasma experiments, theoretical and computational plasma research, and plasma science education.

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