Non-Maxwellian Electron Energy Probability Functions in the plume of a SPT-100 Hall thruster

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We present measurements of the electron density, the effective electron temperature, the plasma potential, and the electron energy probability function (EEPF) in the plume of a 1.5 kW-class SPT-100 Hall thruster, derived from cylindrical Langmuir probe measurements. The measurements were taken on the plume axis at distances between 550 and 1550 mm from the thruster exit plane, and at different angles from the plume axis at 550 mm for three operating points of the thruster, characterized by different discharge voltages and mass flow rates. The bulk of the electron population can be approximated as a Maxwellian distribution, but the measured distributions were seen to decline faster at higher energy. The measured EEPFs were best modelled with a general EEPF with an exponent alfa between 1.2 and 1.5, and their axial and angular characteristics were studied for the different operating points of the thruster. As a result, the exponent alfa from the fitted distribution was seen to be almost constant as a function of the axial distance along the plume, as well as across the angles. However, the exponent alfa was seen to be affected by the mass flow rate, suggesting a possible relationship with the collision rate, especially close to the thruster exit. The ratio of the specific heats, the gamma factor, between the measured plasma parameters was found to be lower than the adiabatic value of 5/3 for each of the thruster settings, indicating the existence of non-trivial kinetic heat fluxes in the near collisionless plume. These results are intended to be used as input and/or testing properties for plume expansion models in further work.
Eepf, Hall thruster, Plasma plume, Electric propulsion
Bibliographic citation
Giono, G., Gudmundsson, J. T., Ivchenko, N., Mazouffre, S., Dannenmayer, K., Loubère, D., Popelier, L., Merino, M. y Olentšenko, G. (2018). Non-Maxwellian Electron Energy Probability Functions in the plume of a SPT-100 Hall thruster. Plasma Sources Science and Technology, 27(1).