Facilities / Instalaciones

Plasma sources

The experiments with low pressure plasmas require of devices for the primary plasma production. In these equipments the flow of neutral gas is partially ionized and a plasma stream is generated by means of an electron neutralized ion beam. The commercial microwave or direct current (Kauffman) commercial plasma sources are expensive equipments that usually exceed our budget. This fact leads us to develop our own plasma sources from previous designs of ring cusp plasma trusthers as those shown below. These equipments are intended for double purposes; as primary plasma sources as well as low power ion thrusters for space propulsion.

Vacuum chambers

Two vacuum chambers are available for the experiments. The large Arges plasma chamber is a stainless steel cylinder of 2 meters of length and 0.8 meters in diameter equipped with the corresponding vacuum pumps and measuring gauges. The baseline pressure reached is 10-6 mBar and the external set of coils impose to the plasma column an axial magnetic field. In the photograph below left may be appreciated the front view of this plasma chamber and a side view with the coils.

The small plasma chamber is operative since 1992 and is also a stainless steel cylinder of 0.8 meters in length and 0.4 in diameter. The baseline pressure is 10-6 mbar and the working pressures when using the above plasma sources are between  10-5 and 10-4 mbars of Argon. The chamber was enlarged with a T-shape section, with a DN 250 ISO KF flange to fit the large diameter diffusion vacuum pump. At the sides of this new section transparent windows allows the observation inside the chamber. Finally, the experiments are controlled from the nearby control room where are most of the electronic and data acquisition systems.