Striations in moderate pressure dc driven nitrogen glow discharge

Malik M. Tahiyat, Jacob C. Stephens, Vladimir I. Kolobov, Tanvir I. Farouk

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1 Scopus citations


Plasma stratification has been studied for more than a century. Despite the many experimental studies reported on this topic, theoretical analyses and numerical modeling of this phenomenon have been mostly limited to rare gases. In this work, a one-dimensional fluid model with detailed kinetics of electrons and vibrationally excited molecules is employed to simulate moderate-pressure (i.e. a few Torrs) dc discharge in nitrogen in a 15.5 cm long tube of radius 0.55 cm. The model also considers ambipolar diffusion to account for the radial loss of ions and electrons to the wall. The proposed model predicts self-excited standing striations in nitrogen for a range of discharge currents. The impact of electron transport parameters and reaction rates obtained from a solution of local two-term and a multi-term Boltzmann equation on the predictions are assessed. In-depth kinetic analysis indicates that the striations result from the undulations in electron temperature caused due to the interaction between ionization and vibrational reactions. Furthermore, the vibrationally excited molecules associated with the lower energy levels are found to influence nitrogen plasma stratification and the striation pattern strongly. A balance between ionization processes and electron energy transport allows the formation of the observed standing striations. Simulations were conducted for a range of discharge current densities from ∼0.018 to 0.080 mA cm−2, for an operating pressure of 0.7 Torr. Parametric studies show that the striation length decreases with increasing discharge current. The predictions from the model are compared against experimental measurements and are found to agree favorably.

Original languageEnglish
Article number085201
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 24 2022


  • Diatomic gas
  • Electron energy distribution
  • Glow discharge
  • Striations
  • Vibrational-excitation


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