Simulating the dynamics of complex plasmas

M Schwabe and DB Graves, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 88, 023101 (2013).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.88.023101

Complex plasmas are low-temperature plasmas that contain micrometer-size particles in addition to the neutral gas particles and the ions and electrons that make up the plasma. The microparticles interact strongly and display a wealth of collective effects. Here we report on linked numerical simulations that reproduce many of the experimental results of complex plasmas. We model a capacitively coupled plasma with a fluid code written for the commercial package COMSOL. The output of this model is used to calculate forces on microparticles. The microparticles are modeled using the molecular dynamics package LAMMPS, which we extended to include the forces from the plasma. Using this method, we are able to reproduce void formation, the separation of particles of different sizes into layers, lane formation, vortex formation, and other effects.

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