The focus of this work is modeling and simulation of low temperature plasma discharges (LTPs). The first part of the thesis consists of the study of dielectric barrier (DBD) plasma actuators. Use of DBD plasma actuators on airfoil surfaces is a promising method for increasing airfoil efficiency. Actuators produce a surface discharge that causes time averaged thrust in the neutral gas. The thrust modifies the boundary layer properties of the flow and prevents the occurrence of separation bubbles. In simulating the working of an actuator, the focus is on the spatial characteristics of the thrust produced by the discharge over very short time and space scales. The results provide an understanding of the causes of thrust, and the basic principles behind the actuator operation.The second part of this work focusses on low pressure plasma discharges used for silicon nanoparticle synthesis. When reactive semiconductor precursor gases are passed through capacitively coupled plasma (CCP) radio frequency (RF) reactors, nano sized particles are formed. When the reactors are operated at high enough powers, a very high fraction of the nanoparticles are crystallized in the chamber. Nanoparticle crystallization in plasma is a very complex process and not yet fully understood. It can be inferred from experiments that bulk and surface processes initiated due to energetic ion impaction of the nanoparticles are responsible for reordering of silicon atoms, causing crystallization. Therefore, study of plasma-particle interactions is the first step towards understanding how particles are crystallized. The specific focus of this work is to investigate the experimental evidence that hydrogen gas presence in argon discharges used for silicon nanocrystal synthesis, leads to a superior quality of nanocrystals. Influence of hydrogen gas on plasma composition and discharge characteristics is studied. Via Monte Carlo simulation, distribution of ion energy impacting particles surface is studied. It is seen that hydrogen ions cause a reduction in particle floating potential, thereby lowering the ion impaction energies. The hydrogen ion current is also effective in delivering increased number of atomic H radicals to the particle surface, which are known to promote particle crystallization. The work therefore sheds light on the ways in which trace amount of hydrogen gas participates in silicon nanoparticle crystallization in argon silane plasma.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2014. Major: Mechanical Engineering. Advisor: Uwe R Kortshagen. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 119 pages.
Simulation of DBD plasma actuators, and nanoparticle-plasma interactions in argon-hydrogen CCP RF discharges.
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