1 Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Technical University of Denmark2 unknown3 Department of Physics, Technical University of Denmark
An experimental investigation of the dynamics of double layers is presented. The experiments are performed in a Q-machine plasma and the double layers are generated by applying a positive step potential to a cold collector plate terminating the plasma column. The double layer is created at the grounded plasma source just after the pulse is applied and it propagates towards the collector with a speed around the ion acoustic speed. When the collector is biased positively, large oscillations are obserced in the plasma current. These oscillations are found to be related to a recurring formation and propagation of a double layer. The period of the oscillations is determined by the propagation length of the double layer. The current is limited during the propagation of the double layer by a growing negative potential barrier formed on the low potential tail. Similar phenomena appear when a potential difference is applied between two plasmas in a Q-machine with two sources. In this case a stationary double layer forms in the plasma column, but the low potential tail is subject to "back and forth" oscillations leading to large amplitude current oscillations.