Ionization waves in the PK-4 direct current neon discharge
Complex plasmas are interesting systems as the charged dust can self-assemble into different types of ordered structures. To understand the mechanisms which govern the transitions from one type of structure to another, it is necessary to know both the dust charge and the confi ning electric fields within the environment, parameters which are difficult to measure independently. As dust is usually confi ned in a plasma sheath where the ions stream from the bulk plasma the negative lower electrode, the problem is further complicated by the ion wake field, which develops downstream of the dust grains in a flowing plasma. The differences in local ion density caused by the wake fi eld change the equilibrium dust charge and shielding distance of the dust grains, and thus affect the interaction between grains. Here we use a molecular dynamics simulation of ion flow past dust grains to investigate the interaction between the dust particles and ions. We consider a long vertical chain of particles confi ned within a glass box placed on the lower electrode of a GEC rf reference cell. We apply the model iteratively to self-consistently determine the dust charge, electric fi eld, and ion density along the length of the chain as well as the ion flow speed. Simulation results indicate that the ion flow speed within the box is subsonic.