Plasma currents and electron distribution functions under a dc electric field of arbitrary strength

Weng, S. M. and Sheng, Zheng-Ming and He, M. Q. and Zhang, J. and Norreys, P. A. and Sherlock, M. and Robinson, A. P. L. (2008) Plasma currents and electron distribution functions under a dc electric field of arbitrary strength. Physical Review Letters, 100 (18). ISSN 0031-9007

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Abstract

The currents induced by arbitrarily strong dc electric fields in plasma and the evolution of electron distributions have been studied by Fokker-Planck simulations. We find that the electron distributions evolve distinctly under different fields; especially, the electron distribution is well represented by the sum of a stationary and drifting Maxwellian at the moderate field. A set of hydrodynamiclike equations, similar to Spitzer’s but without the weak-field limit, is given for calculating the current. It is more suitable for application in hybrid particle-in-cell simulations and may extend plasma transport theory in models that do not employ a kinetic description of the electrons.