Multipactor saturation in parallel-plate waveguides
The saturation stage of a multipactor discharge is considered of interest, since it can guide towards a criterion to assess the multipactor onset. The electron cloud under multipactor regime within a parallel-plate waveguide is modeled by a thin continuous distribution of charge and the equations of motion are calculated taking into account the space charge effects. The saturation is identified by the interaction of the electron cloud with its image charge. The stability of the electron population growth is analyzed and two mechanisms of saturation to explain the steady-state multipactor for voltages near above the threshold onset are identified. The impact energy in the collision against the metal plates decreases during the electron population growth due to the attraction of the electron sheet on the image through the initial plate. When this growth remains stable till the impact energy reaches the first cross-over point, the electron surface density tends to a constant value. When the stability is broken before reaching the first cross-over point the surface charge density oscillates chaotically bounded within a certain range. In this case, an expression to calculate the maximum electron surface charge density is found whose predictions agree with the simulations when the voltage is not too high.