Ion dynamics in electron beam–plasma interaction: particle-in-cell simulations
Electron beam–plasma interaction including ions is studied by particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations using a one-dimensional, electrostatic code. Evidence for Langmuir wave decay is given for sufficiently energetic beams, as in previous Vlasov–Maxwell simulations. The mechanism for the generation of localized finite-amplitude ion density fluctuations is analyzed. Amplitude modulation due to interference between the beam-generated Langmuir waves causes random wave localization including strong transient spikes in field intensity which create bursty ion density structures via ponderomotive forces. More dense beams may quench the decay instability and generate low-frequency variations dominated by the wave number of the fastest growing Langmuir mode.