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September 04 , 2007

Langmuir Probe in Theory and Practice


From flat-panel televisions to thermonuclear fusion for energy production, plasmas currently have numerous and wide applications in sciences and industry. A diversity of plasma diagnostics is available to physicists and engineers to measure and control plasma parameters. Among them, the Langmuir probe is the most inexpensive and most popular instrument and method. The Langmuir probe is a small electrode which is submerged in plasma in order to measure the probe current-voltage characteristic. The same characteristic is processed further to derive the electron and ion concentration, the electron distribution function, and the plasma potential at the probe location. Langmuir probe diagnostics afford rapid measurements of the electron distribution function and plasma potential at a good time resolution, ~ 10-8 seconds in a wide range of plasma densities 10+3 - 10+14 cm-3, and the electron energy from the room temperature to hundreds of electron-volts - qualities which are essential for researchers. In view of these facts, Langmuir probe diagnostics are applied very frequently to measuring plasma parameters.

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