Plasma currents and electron distribution functions under a dc electric field of arbitrary strength

S. M. Weng, Zheng-Ming Sheng, M. Q. He, J. Zhang, P. A. Norreys, M. Sherlock, A. P. L. Robinson

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The currents induced by arbitrarily strong dc electric fields in plasma and the evolution of electron distributions have been studied by Fokker-Planck simulations. We find that the electron distributions evolve distinctly under different fields; especially, the electron distribution is well represented by the sum of a stationary and drifting Maxwellian at the moderate field. A set of hydrodynamiclike equations, similar to Spitzer’s but without the weak-field limit, is given for calculating the current. It is more suitable for application in hybrid particle-in-cell simulations and may extend plasma transport theory in models that do not employ a kinetic description of the electrons.
Original languageEnglish
Article number185001
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2008


  • plasma currents
  • plasma physics
  • electron distribution

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