Diffusion of a multi-component plasma

Wang Min, B. Samuel Tanenbaum, John D. Mathews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Diffusion in a weakly ionized plasma composed of negative ions as well as positive ions is examined using appropriate linearized fluid equations. For initial, electrically neutral, density perturbations of the form exp(ikx) the diffusion process is characterized by electrical non-neutrality and by three stages or time scales. For equal positive and negative ion diffusion coefficients these stages are in general (1) equilibration of the electron gas so that pressure gradient and electric forces are balanced (2) ambipolar-like diffusion of all three species, and concluding with (3) free ion diffusion. The details of the process are governed by the product kλe (wave number times electron Debye length) and the ambient ratio of negative ion to electron number density. Numerical and analytic results for separate positive and negative diffusion coefficients show added complexity which is briefly described. These results or the more complete numerical solutions find application to the lower D region of the ionosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-596
Number of pages6
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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