Stabilization of the ionization overheating thermal instability in atmospheric pressure microplasmas Academic Article uri icon


  • Stable direct current atmospheric pressure plasmas can regularly be generated in air using microplasma systems, and rapid cooling due to the small size is typically suggested as the thermally stabilizing mechanism. However, temperatures of the stable discharges are significantly higher than ambient, and stable operation is not easily achieved in all gases at similar sizes. Revisiting a traditional analysis of the thermal instability, we find that the inclusion of the simple ballasted external circuit in the analysis leads to additional stabilizing mechanisms. This stabilization occurs in microplasmas due to the characteristic times of the external circuit and the instability being comparable, which allows the electric field to change during the time frame of the instability. Experimentally this is implemented by reducing the stray capacitance of the external circuit. This stabilizing mechanism is verified in several gases and its application in a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition system leads to a more uniform film deposition. 2009 American Institute of Physics.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Staack, D., Farouk, B., Gutsol, A., & Fridman, A.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Staack, D||Farouk, B||Gutsol, A||Fridman, A

publication date

  • July 2009