Browsing by Organization "CERN European Organization for Nuclear Research"

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  • Timko, Helga (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    A better understanding of vacuum arcs is desirable in many of today's 'big science' projects including linear colliders, fusion devices, and satellite systems. For the Compact Linear Collider (CLIC) design, radio-frequency (RF) breakdowns occurring in accelerating cavities influence efficiency optimisation and cost reduction issues. Studying vacuum arcs both theoretically as well as experimentally under well-defined and reproducible direct-current (DC) conditions is the first step towards exploring RF breakdowns. In this thesis, we have studied Cu DC vacuum arcs with a combination of experiments, a particle-in-cell (PIC) model of the arc plasma, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the subsequent surface damaging mechanism. We have also developed the 2D Arc-PIC code and the physics model incorporated in it, especially for the purpose of modelling the plasma initiation in vacuum arcs. Assuming the presence of a field emitter at the cathode initially, we have identified the conditions for plasma formation and have studied the transitions from field emission stage to a fully developed arc. The 'footing' of the plasma is the cathode spot that supplies the arc continuously with particles; the high-density core of the plasma is located above this cathode spot. Our results have shown that once an arc plasma is initiated, and as long as energy is available, the arc is self-maintaining due to the plasma sheath that ensures enhanced field emission and sputtering. The plasma model can already give an estimate on how the time-to-breakdown changes with the neutral evaporation rate, which is yet to be determined by atomistic simulations. Due to the non-linearity of the problem, we have also performed a code-to-code comparison. The reproducibility of plasma behaviour and time-to-breakdown with independent codes increased confidence in the results presented here. Our MD simulations identified high-flux, high-energy ion bombardment as a possible mechanism forming the early-stage surface damage in vacuum arcs. In this mechanism, sputtering occurs mostly in clusters, as a consequence of overlapping heat spikes. Different-sized experimental and simulated craters were found to be self-similar with a crater depth-to-width ratio of about 0.23 (sim) - 0.26 (exp). Experiments, which we carried out to investigate the energy dependence of DC breakdown properties, point at an intrinsic connection between DC and RF scaling laws and suggest the possibility of accumulative effects influencing the field enhancement factor.