Equilibrium Properties of a Partially Ionized Plasma
Abstract
A model for a partially ionized, partially dissociated plasma has been formulated using known theoretical concepts to describe both bound and free electron states, internal molecular degrees of freedom and Coulomb interactions. It has been applied to a system of particles arising from the hydrogen molecule. The Coulomb interaction is treated in the classical Debye approximation. However, a distance of closest approach between ions and electrons depending on the kinetic energy of the electrons is included to avoid the shortrange divergence of the Coulomb potential. The kinetic energy of the free electrons is calculated from the partition function for a perfect Fermi gas. The vibrational and rotational motion are treated in the harmonic oscillator and rigid rotor approximation with the number of energy levels counted for a given electronic state depending on the dissociation energy of the state. A volume dependence of the bound electronic energy eigenvalues is included by considering the effect of surrounding particles as a confinement of a given particle to a spherical box of variable size. For the counting of the bound electronic states, a given state is bound until its energy increases to zero due to confinement. From the partition function for the entire system, the free energy is calculated. By a minimization of the free energy of the system, the equilibrium composition as a function of temperature and volume is obtained. Then not only can thermodynamic quantities be calculated, but it is believed that a reasonable approximation to the correct balance of molecular, ionic and free electronic states is achieved over a wide range of vT space. Consequently, regions where incomplete ionization and dissociation are important are delineated. In addition, for different regions of vT space, the relative contributions of charged particle interaction of the nonclassical behavior of electrons, of internal degrees of freedom and of translation to the total energy of the system can be determined.
 Publication:

Physical Review
 Pub Date:
 September 1960
 DOI:
 10.1103/PhysRev.119.1832
 Bibcode:
 1960PhRv..119.1832H