Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

William F. Bailey, PhD


A detailed collisionless sheath theory and a three-region collisional model of a bounded plasma are presented, and the suitability of the collisional model for analysis of ignited mode thermionic converters is investigated. The sheath theory extends previous analyses to regimes in which the sheath potential and electron temperatures are comparable in magnitude. In all operating regimes typical of a ignited mode thermionic converter, the predicted sheaths extend several mean-free paths. The apparent collisionality of the sheaths prompted development of a collisional, three-region model of the converter plasma. By interfacing Particle-in-Cell regions for the sheaths and fluid regions for the bulk of the plasma, a time-dependent, wall-to-wall model of the plasma in the inter-electrode space is created. The components of the model are tested and validated against analytic solutions and against one another, then applied to the analysis of an ignited mode thermionic converter. Under ignited mode operating conditions, the electron velocity distribution at the plasmasheath boundary is found to be inconsistent with that assumed in the model development, and the calculation diverges. The observed distribution is analyzed and a new basis set of distribution functions is suggested that should permit application of the hybrid model to ignited mode thermionic converters.

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The author's Vita page is omitted.