Electron and ion transport equations in computational weakly-ionized plasmadynamics

Bernard Parent, Sergey O. Macheret, Mikhail N. Shneider

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22 Scopus citations


A new set of ion and electron transport equations is proposed to simulate steady or unsteady quasi-neutral or non-neutral multicomponent weakly-ionized plasmas through the drift-diffusion approximation. The proposed set of equations is advantaged over the conventional one by being considerably less stiff in quasi-neutral regions because it can be integrated in conjunction with a potential equation based on Ohm's law rather than Gauss's law. The present approach is advantaged over previous attempts at recasting the system by being applicable to plasmas with several types of positive ions and negative ions and by not requiring changes to the boundary conditions. Several test cases of plasmas enclosed by dielectrics and of glow discharges between electrodes show that the proposed equations yield the same solution as the standard equations but require 10 to 100 times fewer iterations to reach convergence whenever a quasi-neutral region forms. Further, several grid convergence studies indicate that the present approach exhibits a higher resolution (and hence requires fewer nodes to reach a given level of accuracy) when ambipolar diffusion is present. Because the proposed equations are not intrinsically linked to specific discretization or integration schemes and exhibit substantial advantages with no apparent disadvantage, they are generally recommended as a substitute to the fluid models in which the electric field is obtained from Gauss's law as long as the plasma remains weakly-ionized and unmagnetized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-69
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - Feb 15 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Anode sheath
  • Cathode sheath
  • Convergence acceleration
  • Dielectric sheath
  • Drift-diffusion model
  • Fluid model
  • Glow discharge
  • Non-neutral plasma
  • Quasi-neutral plasma
  • Weakly-ionized plasma


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