Measurement of net electric charge and dipole moment of dust aggregates in a complex plasma
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Understanding the agglomeration of dust particles in complex plasmas requires knowledge of basic properties such as the net electrostatic charge and dipole moment of the dust. In this study, dust aggregates are formed from gold-coated mono-disperse spherical melamine-formaldehyde monomers in a radiofrequency (rf) argon discharge plasma. The behavior of observed dust aggregates is analyzed both by studying the particle trajectories and by employing computer models examining three-dimensional structures of aggregates and their interactions and rotations as induced by torques arising from their dipole moments. These allow the basic characteristics of the dust aggregates, such as the electrostatic charge and dipole moment, as well as the external electric field, to be determined. It is shown that the experimental results support the predicted values from computer models for aggregates in these environments.