Simulations of the self-focused pseudospark-sourced electron beam in a background ion channel

Zhang, Liang and Phelps, Alan D. R. and Ronald, Kevin and Cross, Adrian W. (2021) Simulations of the self-focused pseudospark-sourced electron beam in a background ion channel. IEEE Access, 9. pp. 160938-160945. ISSN 2169-3536 (

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Using pseudospark discharge sourced electron beams for the generation of high-peak-power millimeter and terahertz radiation has attracted increasing research interest in recent years. However, one of the crucially important and hitherto unanswered questions is "what is the upper-frequency limit at which millimeter-wave devices can be driven by pseudospark discharge sourced electron beams?". In this paper, we studied this question from the perspective of beam transportation in a plasma background, more specifically an ion channel using particle-in-cell simulations to find the limitations. The parameter ranges of the beam transportation with small oscillations in the beam diameter were investigated and summarized, through simulations of beam propagation in a large diameter drift tube with different ion densities, plasma electron densities, beam density distributions, and beam energies. The beam transportation in a small diameter beam tunnel was also simulated. It showed the maximum beam current with a small velocity spread that can be transported in the beam tunnel was determined by the diameter of the beam tunnel and the ion density. High injected current will cause significant beam loss and reduce the overall efficiency. The simulation results indicate a minimum diameter of the beam tunnel in a millimeter-wave circuit that can be effectively driven by a pseudospark-sourced electron beam. The equivalent upper limit in the operating frequency is about 400 GHz.