This dissertation research focuses on the experimental characterization of dust-plasma interactions at both low and atmospheric pressure. Its goal is to fill the knowledge gaps in (1) the fundamental research of low pressure dusty plasma electrons, which mainly relied on models with few experimental results; and (2) the nanoparticle synthesis process in atmospheric pressure uniform glow plasmas (APGDs), which is largely unexplored in spite of the economical advantage of APGDs in nanotechnology. The low pressure part of the dissertation research involves the development of a com- plete diagnostic process for an argon-siline capacitively-coupled RF plasma. The central part of the diagnostic process is the Langmuir probe measurement of the electron energy probability function (EEPF) in a dusty plasma, which has never been measured before. This is because the dust particles in the plasma cause severe probe surface contamination and consequently distort the measurement. This problem is solved by adding a solenoid- actuated shield structure to the Langmuir probe, which physically protects the Langmuir probe from the dust particle deposition to ensure reliable EEPF measurements. The dusty plasma EEPFs are characterized by lower electron density and higher electron tem- perature accompanied by a drop in the low energy electron population. The Langmuir probe measurement is complemented with other characterizations including the capaci- tive probe measurement, power measurement, and dust particle collection. The complete diagnostic process then gives a set of local plasma parameters as well as the details of the dust-electron interactions reflected in the EEPFs. This set of data serves as input for an analytical model of nanoparticle charging to yield the time evolution of nanoparticle size and charge in the dusty plasma. The atmospheric pressure part of the dissertation focuses on the design and develop- ment of an APGD for zinc oxide nanocrystal synthesis. One of the main difficulties in maintaining an APGD is ensuring its uniformity over large discharge volume. By exam- ining past atmospheric pressure plasma reactor designs and looking into the details of the atmospheric pressure gas breakdown mechanism, three design features are proposed to ensure the APGD uniformity. These include the use of a dielectric barrier and the RF driving frequency, as well as a pre-ionization technique achieved by having a non- uniform gap spacing in a capacitively-coupled concentric cylinder reactor. The resulting APGD reactor operates stably in the abnormal glow regime using either helium or argon as the carrier gas. Diethylzinc (DEZ) and oxygen precursors are injected into the APGD to form zinc oxide nanocrystals. The physical and optical properties of these nanocrys- tals are characterized, and the system parameters that impact the nanoparticle size and deposition rate are identified.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2016. Major: Mechanical Engineering. Advisor: Uwe Kortshagen. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 101 pages.
Characterization of Dust-Plasma Interactions In Non-Thermal Plasmas Under Low Pressure and the Atmospheric Pressure.
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