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Characterizing the plasma-induced thermal loads on a 200 kW light-ion helicon plasma source via infra-red thermography...

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Plasma Sources Science and Technology
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The light-ion helicon plasma source of the Proto-MPEX linear plasma device has been recently upgraded to enable pulsed (0.5–1 s) operation up to 200 kW. The main objective of this work is to report on the plasma-induced surface heat fluxes incident on the helicon window during high power operation (60–150 kW net power) for the purpose of the design of the upcoming material plasma exposure eXperiment (MPEX). The IR imaging system and associated physics models for the extraction of surface heat fluxes are presented. Experimental results demonstrate that the control of the plasma strike point via magnetic flux mapping and the use of dedicated limiters is effective at reducing the heat loads on the dielectric window. Moreover, it is found that the flux mapping must create a gap between the plasma and the dielectric window of at least the plasma radial decay length. Extrapolated to 200 kW net RF power, this mode of operation can reduce the power lost to the dielectric window by 33%. The results presented have direct application to the design of high-powered helicon plasma sources that operate in a steady state. Examples include linear divertor simulators such as MPEX, electric thrusters, negative ion sources for NBI and linear plasma–material interaction test stands.