Diameters and Velocities of Droplets Emitted from the Cu Cathode of a Vacuum Arc

Peter Siemroth, Michael Laux, Heinz Pursch, Jurgen Sachtleben, Martin Balden, Volker Rohde, Rudolf Neu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The cathode spots of vacuum arcs emit material in the form of plasma as well as droplets. Generated by arcs burning at the first wall of fusion devices, the droplets may effectively contaminate the fusion plasma. Essential characteristics of the droplets (diameter, velocity, and emission direction) and their interrelations are poorly known so far. In this paper, a new approach of optical droplet investigation is presented. Emitted from a pulsed vacuum arc, the droplets fly vertically inside a drift tube against gravity, finally passing two consecutive light beams. The time-of-flight and the detected intensity of scattered light allow a simultaneous determination of droplet velocity and size. Different solid angle directions have been realized by turning the cathode with respect to the flight tube axis. Using this technique, the parameters of droplets emitted from a Cu cathode into different directions were obtained. Two distinct groups could be identified at smaller (<20°) and larger (>20°) angles between the surface plane and emission direction, respectively. They exhibit different velocity distributions and different relations between the particle diameter and the emission velocity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8715675
Pages (from-to)3470-3477
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Droplet velocities
  • light scattering
  • vacuum arc


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