Complex dynamic behaviors of nonequilibrium atmospheric dielectric-barrier discharges

In this paper, a one-dimensional fluid model is used to investigate complex dynamic behaviors of a nonequilibrium dielectric-barrier discharge (DBD) in atmospheric helium. By projecting its evolution trajectory in the three-dimensional phase space of gas voltage, discharge current density, and electrode-surface charge density, the atmospheric DBD is shown to undergo a sequence of complex bifurcation processes when the applied voltage is increased from prebreakdown to many times of the breakdown voltage. Once the gas voltage exceeds the breakdown voltage, the discharge plasma is found to acquire negative differential conductivity and as a result its stability is compromised. For atmospheric DBD, however, the resulting low plasma stability is mitigated by a rapid accumulation of surface charges on the electrodes, thus allowing the atmospheric DBD to retain their character as a glow discharge. At certain values of the applied voltage, a highly complex phenomenon of period multiplication is observed in which the period of the discharge current is three times that of the applied voltage. This suggests that nonequilibrium atmospheric DBD may support evolution patterns that are quasiperiodic or even chaotic. These complex dynamic behaviors are likely to be critical to a full understanding of plasma stability of nonequilibrium atmospheric discharges and to the development of their instability control strategies.