Periodic Boundary Conditions Study of Multipole Plasma Trap Using Particle-In-Cell Simulations


Zoey Bigelow

This project will examine the behavior of the inhomogeneous radio-frequency fields which form the basis of the multipole plasma trap (MPT) [1], and their effectiveness while loading the MPT. Inhomogeneous radio-frequency (RF) fields are those that vary in time and space [2], with a field amplitude minimum at the center of the trap. A multipole plasma trap is a 3D arrangement of electrodes in which RF voltage may be applied in order to create a multipole electric field for the purpose of trapping plasma particles. By using the particle-in-cell (PIC) plasma simulation program VSim 10.0 from Tech-X Corporation with periodic boundary conditions for computational efficiency, the effects of loading the MPT can be simulated and examined. These results will provide insight into the effects of this particular process as a novel means of confining and studying unmagnetized plasma in the laboratory for fundamental plasma science, as well as with application to the field of fusion energy and other areas of RF plasma technology. Since this project will rely on performing its vital research entirely through computer simulations, it is completely compatible with fully remote work. The MPT project represents an avenue for me and other undergraduate students to get involved in the growing areas of basic and applied plasma science and technology, and to gain insight into the plasma state of matter that is especially important at high-latitude regions such as Alaska (e.g. space weather). NASA’s strategic goals include expanding human knowledge through new scientific discoveries and address national challenges and catalyze economic growth. This project will further our knowledge of the behaviors of plasma, which is at the base of the future of energy: fusion. The only barrier to this revolutionary energy source is a lack of human knowledge. This project is certain to further economic growth by expanding on what is currently known about the field of plasma physics.


Name: Zoey Bigelow, Undergraduate Student

Institution: University of Alaska Anchorage

Major: Electrical Engineering

Mentor: Nathaniel Hicks,

Award: Apprenticeship

Funding Period: 2020 to 2021