Fully coupled simulation of the plasma liquid interface and interfacial coefficient effects

Alexander D. Lindsay, David B. Graves, Steven C. Shannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


There is a growing interest in the study of coupled plasma-liquid systems because of their applications to biomedicine, biological and chemical disinfection, agriculture, and other areas. Optimizing these applications requires a fundamental understanding of the coupling between phases. Though much progress has been made in this regard, there is still more to be done. One area that requires more research is the transport of electrons across the plasma-liquid interface. Some pioneering works (Rumbach et al 2015 Nat. Commun. 6, Rumbach et al 2015 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 48 424001) have begun revealing the near-surface liquid characteristics of electrons. However, there has been little work to determine the near-surface gas phase electron characteristics. Without an understanding of the near-surface gas dynamics, modellers are left to make assumptions about the interfacial conditions. For instance it is commonly assumed that the surface loss or sticking coefficient of gas-phase electrons at the interface is equal to 1. In this work we explore the consequences of this assumption and introduce a couple of ways to think about the electron interfacial condition. In one set of simulations we impose a kinetic condition with varying surface loss coefficient on the gas phase interfacial electrons. In a second set of simulations we introduce a Henry's law like condition at the interface in which the gas-phase electron concentration is assumed to be in thermodynamic equilibrium with the liquid-phase electron concentration. It is shown that for a range of electron Henry coefficients spanning a range of known hydrophilic specie Henry coefficients, the gas phase electron density in the anode can vary by orders of magnitude. Varying reflection of electrons by the interface also has consequences for the electron energy profile; increasing reflection may lead to increasing thermalization of electrons depending on choices about the electron energy boundary condition. This variation in anode electron density and energy as a function of the interface characteristics could also lead to significant variation in near-surface gas chemistries when such reactions are included in the model; this could very well in turn affect the reactive species impinging on the liquid surface. We draw the conclusion that in order to make more confident model predictions about plasma-liquid systems, finer scale simulations and/or new experimental techniques must be used to elucidate the near-surface gas phase electron dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number235204
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number23
StatePublished - May 6 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


  • DC discharge with water anode
  • multiphysics simulation
  • plasma-liquid interface


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