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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH of the National Bureau of Standards— B. Mathematics and Mathematical Physics 

Vol. 65B, No. 2, April-June 1961 

Some Boundary Value Problems Involving Plasma 


James R. Wait * 

(November 3, 1960) 

A plasma, consisting of a neutral mixture of electrons, ions and molecules, in the presence 
of a constant magnetic field H , possesses a dielectric constant which is in the form of a tensor. 
Exact solutions of boundary value problems involving such media are obtained for two- 
dimensional configurations. Explicit results are given for the reflection coefficients of 
stratified plasma in planar and cylindrical geometry. 

1. Introduction 

A neutral mixture of positive (and negative) ions and electrons is often described as a 
plasma. For example, flames, gaseous discharges, strong shock waves, and the ionosphere 
are various kinds of plasma. The behavior of electromagnetic waves within and in (he vicinity 
of plasma is of great current interest. 

Mainly because of the presence of the free electrons the plasma is a dielectric. The col- 
lisions of electrons with the ions cause dissipation of energy and thus the dielectric is lossy. 
A radio wave propagating through the plasma is thus expected to be attenuated. Furthermore, 
in the presence of a steady magnetic field, the plasma becomes anisotropic so that the dielectric 
constant is of tensor form and thus, in general, propagation is not reciprocal. 

It is the purpose of the present paper to consider the interaction of electromagnetic waves 
and plasma for a special class of two-dimensional problems. The geometry is chosen so the 
wave propagation is essentially transverse to the longitudinal axis. Such a restriction permits 
exact solutions of a number of relevant boundary value problems to be obtained. Since radio 
waves, particularly microwaves, are being currently employed as a diagnostic tool in probing 
plasma, it appears that results given below can find application. 

An excellent introduction to the theory of propagation of electromagnetic waves in plasma 
has been given recently by Whitmer [l]. 2 A more comprehensive treatment is found in a 
recent monograph by Ratcliffe [2]. The dielectric behavior and the molecular properties of 
a plasma have been dealt with by a number of authors [3-6]. In particular, Spitzer [7], has 
given a very thorough discussion for fully ionized gases. 

2. Dielectric Properties of a Plasma 

Since the problems to be discussed in the following sections deal with two-dimensional 

geometry, it is desirable to take the £-axis of the Cartesian or the cylindrical coordinate system 

in the direction of the applied magnetic field H Q . In this case the dielectric displacement 
-> -> 

D is related to the electric field E by the relation 

-> -> (1) 

where (e) is the tensor dielectric constant. For an implied time factor exp (icot), it has the form 

(«)= »2 «' (2) 

1 This work was carried out while the author was on a visit to the Laboratory for Electromagnetic Theory at the Technical University of 
I Denmark. 

2 Figures in brackets indicate the literature references at the end of this paper. 


The quantities e' , e", and q are functions of the density of the electrons and the ions and the 
frequency of collisions between them. They also depend, of course, on the strength of the 
applied magnetic field H (see appendix). 

The case usually considered is where the electromagnetic forces only influence the elec- 
trons. Furthermore, the motion of the ions is commonly neglected. For this situation, the 
properties of the plasma can be approximately described in a macroscopic sense in terms of the 
following quantities: 

co , the (electron) plasma frequency 
a> T , the (electron) gyro frequency 
v, the effective collision frequency (for electrons). 
The elements of the dielectric tensor are then given explicitly by 

e' , i(v-\-io))(al/o) 

e co^+(v+ico) 2 

q _ — w t (jOq/go 
e ol + iv+ioo) 2 



e (v-\-i<jj)oj 

The preceding can be generalized to include the influence of heavy ions by simply adding 
a summation prefix to the ratios on the right-hand side of equations (3), (4), and (5). Then, 
in each term, the appropriate value of co , v } and o> T must be employed. This approach is 
valid for a weakly ionized medium and has been employed by Hines [8]. In the case of a 
plasma consisting of a neutral mixture of electrons, one type of heavy ions and a relatively 
large number of neutral molecules, the elements of the dielectric tensor have the form 

q_ oj t o) 2 /o) L 2 co r coo7co ,_, 

eo a4+(i>e+^) 2 M 2 w|+(^ + iw) 2 

e (j> 6 +?co)a> (^+?co)co 

A m e mass of electron 

m t mass ot ion 

and v e and v t are the collision frequencies of the electrons and the ions, respectively, with the 
uncharged molecules. The effect of collisions between the electrons and the ions is neglected. 
co and co T are the (electron) plasma and (electron) gyro frequencies. Since the charge of the 
ions is equal and opposite to the electrons, it follows that juco and —$lu t are the (ion) plasma 
and (ion) gyro frequencies, respectively. 

It can be seen that if j^<<^co, the denominators in the second factors for e' and q behave 
as jul 2 co| — co 2 . Thus, at frequencies near the (ion) gyro frequency, the influence of the ions 
may be significant even though the mass ratio p. is very small. However, when collisions are 
not negligible, the effect of the ions is usually quite small. In particular, if */*>>&> and *> c >>to, 
this fact can be demonstrated by rewriting the elements of the dielectric tensor in the form 


= 1 PlI H M a 2 212 (9) 

^ri-A 2 #±^i do) 

vl\__ M^r + ^/J 

([ CO^COo/( 



€ <J2 T 

£-l-*4Tl+*jfl (11) 

e ^L "i J 

since the ratio (ut + v 2 e ) / (jl 2 u 2 T -\- v'i) is of the order of unity in most cases of practical interest. 
The square bracket terms may be replaced by unity since jl is of the order of 10~ 4 . 

When the plasma becomes strongly ionized, the situation is more com plicated. The 
formalism is given in the appendix where the relative number of ions and electrons is unrestricted 
However, in the case of a fully ionized plasma the elements of the dielectric tensor are given by 
[9, 10] 

e ' = \ I Mo(l + A)[ctf 2 — /W~ IG)V(1 + Ji)] . gv 



q^ uuTuKfr 2 — 1) 

= 1 _ ^U + A) (l4 ) 


A=(A4(1— A) 2 — [w 2 — Aw^-iwv(H-A)] 2 . 

As before, /x is the ratio of the masses of the electron and the ion. Also, w and co 7 . are the 
(electron) plasma and (electron) gyro frequencies, respectively. In this case, however, v is the 
collision frequency between the electrons and the ions which have equal and opposite charge. 

It can be immediately seen that if jl is set equal to zero, these expressions reduce to the 
form of equations (3), (4), and (5), which are derived under somewhat different conditions. It 
can also be seen that equations (12), (13), and (14) have the same form as (6), (7), and (8) if 
p=p e =Vi=0< However, when collisions are non-negligible there is a fundamental difference 
between a weakly and a fully ionized plasma. This is a consequence of the coupling between 
the equations of motion for the electrons and the ions (see appendix). 

Under the very reasonable approximation that 1 ± jl can be replaced by 1, it readily follows 
that eqs (12), (13), and (14) can be written in the form 

e' i(v + iu)w 2 o/u) ( , 

60 ft^+^ + fo) 1 {l0) 

6o u 2 T +(v + iu) 2 { V 

J f 0, i 2 

^ = 1_^* (17) 

e 3 (p+iw)co 

where v=v—ijlooTh=v ( 1 — i— - )• 
\ vw J 

The quantity v could be described as an effective (complex) collision frequency. It should be 
noted that only the elements e' and q of the dielectric tensor involve v; the remaining element 
e" is not changed. 

It is now evident that the motion of the ions, for a fully ionized gas, can be neglected only if 

For low frequencies and/or low collision frequencies this condition may well be violated. 

5SG06G— 61 4 139 

3. Field Equations 

Maxwell's equations in a source free region with a (tensor) dielectric constant («) and a 
(scalar) magnetic permeability n are given by 

i{e)wE=cw\ H 


— ijMiH= curlE 1 . 
It is desirable to write the first of these in the form 

io>E={t- x ) cm\H, 
where (« _1 ) is the inverse of the dielectric tensor. It is not difficult to show that 

CM -%K -n 


«o(6" 1 ) = 

iK M 

Lo o 6„A"J 




e e 

WY-q 2 

and K= 



This formula is quite general. The only restriction is that the s-axis is to be taken in the 
direction of the impressed magnetic field. In the following it is assumed that the fields do 
not vary in the ^-direction. In terms of Cartesian coordinates, Maxwell's equations are 
then written 

le Q uE x =M ~^+%K -~ 
OIJ ox 


— imo>H x — N 

-iix wH y =—N 


. TT ,SbE v bE x l 


where N=/j. /h. 

It is a relatively simple matter to eliminate the transverse component of the fields from 
the preceding six equations. Thus 

p^ jp Jfc* 
\_bx i+ by 2+ MN 







where k= (e Mo) 1/2 w=27r/wavelongth. These latter two equations are valid only if the magnetic 
permeability and the elements of the dielectric tensor are constant for at least a given region. 
The fact that H z and E z individually satisfy a wave equation means that any solution to 
our problem can be regarded as the linear combination of two partial solutions. In the 
first of these, E z =0 and in the second, H z =0. Thus without any subsequent loss of generality, 
attention can be restricted to these cases. It should be emphasized that this decomposition 
into independent partial fields is valid only when the derivatives with respect to z are zero. 
As we shall see, the solution for H z =0 is relatively trivial since the constant magnetic field II 
then has no influence (at least within the limits of magneto-ionic theory). 

4. Reflection Coefficient for a Plane Boundary Between Free Space and Plasma 

With respect to the Cartesian coordinate system, a homogeneous plasma occupies the 
space 2/>0 and while y<^0 corresponds to free space, the constant and uniform magnetic field 
is parallel to the 2-axis. A plane wave with harmonic time dependence (i.e., exp (loot)) is 
incident from below as indicated in figure 1 . 




± 1 








j////////////// / 




Figure 1. The coordinate system for reflection at a plane 
interface between a homogeneous plasma (y^>0) and free 
space (y<C0). 


The constant magnetic field i/o is along the direction of the positive z-axis 
(out of the paper) . 

The angle of incidence is 6 (measured to the negative y-axis) and the wave is polarized 
such that its magnetic field has only a component in the ^-direction, denoted H in z °. Thus, 

H in z c =h exp (—ikCy) exp (—ikSx), 


where (7= cos 0, $=sin d and h is a constant. 

Since the reflected field IP z l is a solution of the free-space wave equation and is to have the 
same dependence with x as the incident wave, it must be of the form 

Hf=h R exp (ik C y) exp (- ik Sx), (30) 

where R is by definition the reflection coefficient. 

With similar reasoning, the solution for the plasma (i.e., 2/>0) must have the form 

H g =f(y)exp(-ikSx), (31) 


where j{y) is some function of y. Furthermore, since H z is to satisfy eq (27), it follows that f(y) 
must satisfy 

[|- 2 +<OT- S2 )>)=°- ™ 

Solutions are of the form 

exp [±ik [(M^-'-S 2 )] 1 ^]. (33) 

Since the plasma extends to y— + oo ? the solution corresponding to the negative sign in the 
exponent is pertinent. Therefore, the transmitted wave has the form 

H z =h T exp [-ik [(MN^-Sn) exp (-ik S x), (34) 

where T is by definition a transmission coefficient. 

The boundary conditions are that the tangential components of the fields in the free 
space and in the plasma are to be continuous at y=0. Continuity of H z leads to 

1+R=T, (35) 

and continuity of E x , by virtue of eq (21), leads to 

C (l-R) = T[[(MN)- 1 -S 2 ] l/2 M+iKS]. (36) 



A=M [(MNr'-ST'+iKS. (38) 

For an electron plasma where the motions of the ions are neglected, it is possible to write 
A in the following form : 

[ c2 +ju^T {iL - L2 - y2) - iyS 

(i+;z) 2 -7 2 


where L=(v J rioo) cc/coq, and v=u T oo/ooo. We have also set iV=l (i.e., m=Mo) although a plasma 
may be slightly diamagnetic. 

The reflection coefficient, essentially in this form, was derived by Barber and Crombie [11] 
where the homogeneous electron plasma was to be an idealized representation for the ionosphere. 
Because of the assumption of a purely transverse magnetic field H Q , the horizontal direction 
of propagation is along the magnetic equator. For propagation from east-to-west, S is 
positive, while for propagation from west-to-east S is negative, y is then a positive real 

For applications at low and ver} r low radio frequencies, *>>>co so that to a good approxi- 

L^a)/o) r where o) r =u 2 ) /v. 

Some numerical results based on eq (37) are available [12]. 

5. Reflection from a Stratified Plasma 

We shall now undertake to generalize the previous result to a plasma medium which is 
stratified in layers all parallel to the free-space interface at y=0. The situation is shown in 
figure 2, where P parallel layers are indicated. The £>th layer from the bottom is of thickness 
l p and its electrical properties are described by M p , N PJ and K v . The index p ranges from 1 
to P. It should also be noted that l P = oo. 


Figure 2. Reflection from a stratified plasma. 

Again taking the incident wave to be polarized with its magnetic vector parallel to the 
s-axis, it is seen that the field for y<Cfi has the form 

H 2 =h [exp (-ik Cy)+R exp (ik Cy)] exp (-ik Sx). 


The problem is to find an expression for R which involves the properties of the individual 
layers. It is possible, of course, to formally extend the results for the semi-infinite case by 
writing the solution in each layer as a linear combination of the two elementary forms given 
by (33). The two unknown coefficients for each layer are then found from the two boundary 
conditions at each plane interface. The resulting 2N linear equations may then be solved in 
a straightforward but a very tedious manner for any specified but finite value of N. The 
resultant solution can be found in a more systematic way if the analogy with SchelkunofPs 
[13] theory of nonuniform transmission lines is exploited. We use (his method here. 
The wave impedances for the y>th layer are defined by 



K: = 



The superscript + signifies that the fields vary with y according to the factor exp [—i(3 v y] 

$ v =k[{M p N p )- l -&]v\ 

whereas the superscript — signifies that the fields vary with y according to the factor exp 
[ip p y]. In the present case, the superscript + signifies a wave traveling in the positive y- 
direction (i.e., away from the interface) and the — signifies a wave traveling in the negative 

From eqs (41a) and (41b) it readily follows that the wave impedances are 


Kt = rio (M p p p +i K p S) 
K p = ri (M p P P -iK p S) 


where 77 =(moAo) 1/2 = 120 it. The index p ranges from 1 to P. Because of the quantity K v 
it is seen that K„ and K~ are not equal as they would be in an isotropic medium. 3 

The reflection coefficients at the interface between the (P— l)th and the Pth layer are 
now defined by 

R P -i= 






3 No confusion should arise between the symbols K v and K? and K v , since the superscripted quantities are used only for the wave impedances. 


where the field components are evaluated within the (P— l)th layer. Thus, 

7 ^- i== z^+z+ and ,p -' = i/k- p - 1 +i/k + ; (45) 

The reflection coefficients at the interface between the (P— 2)th and (P— l)th layer are then 

Rp -^K P . 2 +Z P . l and r - 2 =l/K P _ 2 +i/Z P _/ (46) 

where Z P _i is the impedance seen at the (P— l)th interface. From analogy with transmission 
line theory 

y _ts+ l+r P _i exp {—i2$ P _dp-\) , An , 

Ap-1 — Ap_i 1 , ^ 7 r-— = r-; ^4/ ) 

1+Rp-i exp (— ^2i8p_l/p_l) 
where r P _i and P P _i are given explicitly by eq (44). Now, in general, 

Z »~ K * 1+A%exp(-^U ? (48) 

so that the process may be continued until p=l, whence 

Finally, for the bottom interface 
which may be rewritten 

*=§*!' (50) 

£=g=£ (51) 

where A=Zi/?7o since Ko=Kq=t} C. 

For the special case of a two-layered plasma (i.e., l 2 — °°), the explicit expression for A 

a fM ox l+riexp(-i2ft/i) ( 


p (Mih+iKiS)-(M 2 h+iK 2 S) ( . 

JXl -(M^ 1 ~iK l S) + (M 2 ^ 2 +iK 2 S) ^ 6) 


r _ l/(M 1 p 1 +iK 1 S)-l/(M 2 p 2 +iK 2 S) , 

n l/(M 1 p 1 -iK l S) + l/(M 2 p 2 +iK 2 S)' ^ j 

The limiting case of a homogeneous plasma is recovered by letting l x -^> oo } whence 

A=Af, ft+iSS, 
which is identical to eq (38) after dropping the subscript 1. 

6. Scattering from a Cylindrical Plasma Column 

In certain applications the plasma may be in the form of a cylindrical column. Examples 
are the ionization associated with meteor trails in the upper atmosphere and the ionization 
associated with the shock wave emanating from an exploding wire. In this section expres- 
sions for the reflected or scattered fields are derived under the assumption that the ionized 
column is infinite in length. First, the column is assumed to be homogeneous, but later the 
solution is generalized to allow for variation of the plasma properties in the radial direction. 

Choosing a conventional cylindrical coordinate system (p, <j>, z), a homogeneous plasma 
column occupies the space p<^a. A constant magnetic field, H Q , exists through the plasma 


Figure 3. A magnetic line source at (po, <£o) in the presence 
of a homogeneous cylindrical plasma column. 

The constant magnetic field Ho is directed along the positive z-axis (out of 
the paper) . 

column and it is directed along the 2-axis. The medium surrounding the cylinder, p^>a, is 
taken to be free space. The source of the field is taken to be a line source located at p = Po and 
</>=</>o and running parallel to the 0-axis and the plasma column. The line source radiates a 
cylindrical wave polarized so that its magnetic field has only a 0-component. 

The adoption of a line source rather than a plane wave source has the advantage of 
obtaining a more general solution. When p — >oo ; the incident wave has a plane front but in 
most practical applications the incident wave front is curved corresponding to a finite value 

Of p . 

The primary or incident field is given by [14] 



where /is the strength of the line source (actually, it is the magnetic current), and where H& 2) 
is the Hankcl function of order zero of the second kind, and 

[pM-p 2 -2pp o cos(<£-0o)] 1/2 . 

Employing an additional theorem for TI^ 2) (kp), this can be written 

€ () C0/ 


S m ) (kp {] )J m (h)e~ i 



for p<Oo, "where Hffi and J m are Hanked and Bessel functions of order //?, respectively. When 
p>p , Jcpo is to be interchanged with kp. The 0-component of the primary magnetic field is 
then given by 

E'T=4 £ m ) {kpo)kJ' m {k P )e- im ^-^\ 

Q m = — co 


where the prime indicates a differentiation with respect to the argument kp. 

Since the scattered or reflected field H s z outside the column is a solution of the wave equa- 
tion, it can be written in the form [14] 

tc m= — 00 


where B m is an undetermined coefficient. The <p component of the scattered electric field is then 

E%=4 £ B m mKk Pa )kH^'{kp)e-^-H). (59) 

For the region p<C a , the magnetic field H z satisfies 

d 2 


P 5T7 + " 

mn] Mz 

dp H dp ' p 2 d^ 2 
which is just the wave equation. Therefore, we may write 

= 0, 

*t m = — oo 




where /3=k(MN)~ 1 , and A m is an undetermined coefficient. Since 

P dct> 


it follows that 

■* W = — 00 

A m H%\kp ) [-^ J m (/3p)+M^j;(/3p)] e -'»(*- 


The boundary conditions at the surface of the plasma cylinder may be written 

H z =Hr+m 




Application of these leads readily to 

A m 

_ J m (ka) + B m H™(ka) 
J m (Pa) 


B n , 

M\ m J' m (Pa) mK J' m {ka) ' 

J n (0a) ka J m (ka) 

rM\^ J' m (M mK gff'flta) 

kN) JJfia) ka Hi?(ka) 






This is the exact solution of the problem. If the constant magnetic field H is removed the 
results are identical to that of a dielectric cylinder in the presence of a line source [15]. In 
this limiting case, K=0, M=e /e and N=p /p. 

7. Scattering from a Cylindrically Stratified Plasma 

The preceding results are now generalized to a cylindrical column of ionization which 
consists of P concentric layers. The situation is illustrated in figure 4. The incident cylin- 
drical wave again emanates from a line source at (p , O ) and the field is to be observed at (p, </>.) 
The wave impedances may now be defined by 



and K m 

■ n - z.m 


where + and— refer to the two independent wave solutions, proportional to J m {& P p) and 
H^ (j3„p) in the pth layer. In view of the equation 

7-1 -Tjr OH, j, r OH z 

% e a>EV = lK v -^rr—M v 

it follows that 

'pd</> " dp 

TmK p /M,y* JLiM l 
"""■" *[_ h \Nj J m (ft,p)J 


Figure 4. A line source in the presence of a cyli 
drically stratified plasma column. 



Km -'~ l l kp \N V ) H^(H pP )j W 

The index p ranges from 1 to P to signify the appropriate concentric region in the plasma. 
The reflection coefficients at the interface between the £>th and the (p— l)th layer are then 


ty H-z,m J^m, y -1 ^m, p (7 1\ 

■& <p,m l/^TO.p-l I V^m,p 

where Z m , P is the impedance at the interface between the pt\\ and the (p— l)th layer. Z„ ltP 
may be expressed in terms of the reflection coefficients R mtP and r m%p by again making use of 
Schelkunoff's nonuniform transmission line theory [13]. Thus, 

y jt + L-\-T m p X me \(l V ) Q, p + i)X me \Q>p-\-i , dp) (7Q\ 

l~\~Ilm,pX-m,h\Q>pj ap + l)Xm,fi\Q>p + l, &p) 

xUa p , a p+1 )=%%±i (74) 

Xm,e(0>p + 1, ttp) = w- ' n ! P x> (75) 


xX*Ka ;)+ 0=^%^> (76) 

Xm,h(ap + l, <t>p) = TT-' („ P \ (77) 

£Lz t m\u>p+l) 

The x ?s are clearly transmission factors which describe the fractional change of a wave as it 
propagates from one interface to the other within a layer. The numerator in eq (73) is thus a 
measure of the electric field at the 2;th interface taking into account the transmission through 
the layer, reflection at the (p+l)th layer and transmission back again to the pth layer. The 
denominator of eq (73) corresponds, in a similar manner, to the magnetic field. 
The specific form of the transmission factors is 

Y+ (n a \ = ^M»(Mp + i)~ ^AtMp + OK + l / 7 o\ 

m ' e[ P ' P+l) M P P P JUM-rnK p J m (p P a p )/a p ' {/b) 

Y _ (n n v = M p f$ p H™ ' (p p a p ) - mK p H™ (0 P a p )/a p 

Xn>,eW P+ i,a p) M v ^^\p p a p+x )-mK p H^{^ p+l )la p ^ ^ } 

y+ ( n n \_ Jm(PpO>p + l) / Qn x 

<-m,h \a p ,ap + l)— T (a „ \ > v sn ) 




*m,h\U'p + l, a p) — LJ{2)(o„ \ \ S1 / 

Mm KPpUp + l) 

Then starting with the reflection coefficients R mP -\ and r„ nP _ h given by 

*"-*- 1 -££,_ 1 +tf£, and r "- p - 1 -\/KX P - 1 +l/Ki.P (8) 

5S6066— 61 5 J 47 

we may obtain R mP - 2 and r m , P _ 2 which in turn enables us to obtain R m ,p-z and r w , P _ s . The 
process is continued until the outermost interface is reached, whence 



j? _ Km,o Z mA n __ 1/g+o— l/Z Wt i , . 

ii mf0 -rAn.i . i/A mi o-f-i/A» t i 

_ . ff<?"(fr>) ,_.,. 

If the scattered field Hi is written in the form 

it follows that 

#*=— £ B m m\k Pa )m\k P )e-^-*o), (86) 

B m =--R m , 0H l ika y (87) 

It may be readily verified that i? TO)0 for the special case of a homogeneous plasma column 
(i. e., set a 2 =0) is identical to the square bracket term on the right-hand side of eq (66). 

For purposes of computation it is convenient to locate the line source at a great distance 
from the cylindrical column in terms of wavelength. The Hankel functions of argument kp 
and kpo may then be replaced by the first term of their asymptotic expansions since kp and 
fcpo»l. Thus, 



~..T / O* \l/2 +co 

Hl^^(~) e-upo S B m e im ^ 2 Hi?(kp)e-^(4>-4> ). (89) 

4 \Trkpo/ m =-co 

This form of the solution would have been obtained directly if plane wave incidence was as- 
sumed at the outset. It should be noted that the factor preceding the summation in eq (89) 
is just the value of Hf c evaluated at the center of the cylinder. 

8. A Note on the Other Polarization 

The results derived in the preceding sections are valid when the magnetic vector of the 
incident wave is parallel to the cylinder. The derivation for the other polarization, namely, 
that when the electric vector is parallel to the cylinder, is relatively trivial since the constant 
magnetic field H has no influence. The dielectric constant is now simply a scalar and is equal 
to e". The explicit results for E'-parallel polarization may be obtained from those of ff-parallel 
polarization by making the following transforms: 

H z - 

*E t 

E x - 

>-H t 


* — H$ 




>-H f 


> .V 


» M 

Also, of course, K=0 and now M=(t a jt"). 


9. Appendix 

In this appendix a rather approximate theory of electric currents in a partially ionized 
gas is given. The gas is supposed to consist of electrons of mass m e and of charge —e; and 
positive ions of mass m f and charge e. Since the gas must be, to a close approximation, elec- 
trically neutral, the number of electrons and positive ions per unit volume is the same; each is 
taken equal to N . There are also N a neutral atoms or molecules per unit volume with mass M t 
indistinguishable from the positive ions. The electrons, positive ions and neutral atoms are 
regarded as three gases moving independently. The interaction between (he electron and the 
ion gases is supposed to be smoothed into a continuous force. In fact only those forces are 
considered which result from macroscopic electromagnetic effects on charge and from friction- 
like action and reaction between the free charges and the uncharged background. Only mean 
velocities and forces are employed, and non-linearities are avoided by a perturbation treatment. 

Further assumptions, adopted here, are that the velocity of the gas as a whole is zero, 
and that the gradients of the electron and ion pressures are zero. The removal of these latter 
restrictions would require that the problem be treated on the basis of magneto hydrodynamics 
[8, 16]. Such an approach has been given by Spitzer [7] for a wholly ionized gas and Cowling 
for a partially ionized gas [17]. 

The mean velocities of the electron gas, positive ion gas, and neutral gas are denoted by 
-> -> -> 

v e , v i} and v a , respectively. Since m^rrii, the electrons lose, on the average, a quantity of 

-> -> 
momentum equal to their mean momentum m e {v e — v t ) at each collision with the charged ions. If 

the mean time between successive collisions is pj* 1 , then the momentum lost by electrons in 

-> -> 
collision with positive ions per unit volume is N o m e (v e —Vi)v . Similarly, the momentum lost 

-> -> 
by electrons in collision with neutral atoms per unit volume is N m e (v e — v a )v e where v~ l is the 

mean time between successive collisions of electrons with neutral atoms. Remembering that 

the momentum of the mass as a whole is zero, and since the mass of the electrons is negligible, 

it follows that 

Nom&i+Ntin&^O, (90) 

-> -^ 

and thus v a =— av t where a=N Q /N a . 

-> -> -> 

Now the electromagnetic forces acting on an electron are — 6(/£ , +/v ? eX//o) where E is the 

electric field of the wave and H is the constant magnetic field superimposed on the system. 

-> -^ 

(It is assumed that H is much greater than the magnetic field H associated with the wave.) 

The equation of motion for the electron gas may then be written 

m e dv e /dt = m e iuv e = — e[E+iioV e XHo] — m e v (v e —v i ) — m e v e (v e +av i ). (91) 

The equation of motion for the positive ions can be obtained in an equally simple fashion. 
In this case, the momentum lost by the positive ions in collision with the electrons is 

-> -^ 
—N Q m e (v e —Vi)v 0} 

being equal and opposite to the quantity appearing above. The positive ions, in collision with 
the neutral atoms of the same mass, lose half their momentum relative to the neutral gas. 
Specifically, the momentum lost is y 2 N ?n i Vi(l J ra)v i where v t ~ l is the mean time between suc- 
cessive collisions of positive ions with neutral atoms. Therefore, the desired equation is 
-> ->-»->-> ->-> -> 

rriidVi/dt^ m i io)V i =e[E+^v i XH ] + m e v (v e — v t ) — m t v t Vt(l+a)/2. (92) 

-> -» -> 

Equations (91) and (92) may be solved for v e and v t in terms of E and other known quan- 
tities. The current density resulting from motion of the electrons and the ions is then equal 
-» -» -> -> 

to N e(Vi—v e ). looting that the displacement current is ie a>E and the total current is i(e)wE, 

it is seen that the dielectric tensor (e) can be obtained from the relation 


i(e)a)E=ie uE+N e(v i — v e ). (93) 

Choosing H to be directed along the z-axis, the dielectric tensor is found to have the form 

■' -iq ^ 

(e)= iq e' (94) 

L e" 

The quantities e', e", and q are functions of m e , m u v e , v u v, N , N a , and H . Explicit results 
for certain special cases are given in the body of the paper. To simplify the notation there, 
the results are expressed in terms of the positive real quantities co and co T which are defined by 

a>l=N e 2 /e m e (95) 


(ti T =—HoH Q e/m e (96) 

Also, in discussing certain special cases in the text, the subscript on v is dropped. 

I would lika to thank Mrs. Eileen Brackett for preparation of the manuscript and Mr. 
Kenneth P. Spies for his careful reading of the paper. The present work was performed under 
contract CSO and A58-40 with the Electronics Research Directorate, U.S. Air Force Cambridge 
Research Laboratories. 

10. References 

[1] R. F. Whitmer, Principles of microwave interactions with ionized media, Microwave J. 17 (Feb. 1959); 

47 (Mar. 1959). 
[2] J. A. Ratcliffe, Magneto-ionic theory and its applications (Cambridge Univ. Press, England, 1959). 
[3] S. Chapman and T. G. Cowling, The mathematical theory of non-uniform gases (Cambridge Univ. Press, 

[4] T. G. Cowling, Electrical Conductivity of an ionized gas in a magnetic field, with applications to the 

solar atmosphere and the ionosphere, Proc. Roy. Soc A183, 453 (1945) 
[5] K. T. Compton and I. Langmuir, Electrical discharges in gases, Rev. Mod. Phys. 2, 124 (1930). 
[6] A. M. Cravath, The rate at which ions lose energy in elastic collisions, Phys. Rev. 36, 248 (1930). 
[7] L. Spitzer, Jr., Physics of fully ionized gases, (Interscience Publ., New York, 1956). 
[8] C. O. Hines, Generalized magneto-hydrodynamic formulae, Proc. Camb. Phil. Soc. 49, Pt. 2, 299-307 

[9] V. L. Ginzburg, The theory of propagation of radio waves in the ionosphere [in Russian] (Gostekhizdat, 
[10] Ya. B. Fainberg and M F. Gorbatenko, Electromagnetic waves in plasma situated in a magnetic field, 

J. Tech. Phys. USSR 29, No. 5, 549 (May 1959). 
[11] N. F Barber and D. D. Crombie, VLF reflections from the ionosphere in the presence of a transverse 

magnetic field, Jour. Atmospheric Terrest. Phys. 16, 37 (Oct. 1959). 
[12] J. R. Wait and N. F. Carter, Field strength calculations for ELF radio waves, NBS Tech. Note No. 52 

(PB-161553) (Mar. 1960). 
[13] S. A. Schelkunoff, Electromagnetic waves (D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., New York, N.Y., 1943). 
[14] J. R. Wait, Electromagnetic radiation from cylindrical structures (Pergamon Press, London and New 

York, 1959). (In particular, see appendix.) 
[15] C. Froese and J. R. W^ait, Calculated diffraction patterns of dielectric cylinders at centimetric wave- 
lengths, Canad. J. Phys. 32, 775-781 (1954). 
[16] H. Alfven, Cosmical electrodynamics, (Clarendon Press, Oxford, England, 1950). 
[17] T. G. Cowling, Magnetohydrodynamics (Interscience Publishers, New York, N.Y., 1957). 

Additional References 

W. H. Eggiman, Scattering of a plane wave on a ferrite cylinder, IRE Trans. M-TT 8, 440-445 (July, 1960). 

V.V. Nikolskii, Radioengineering and Electronics (U.S.S.R.) 3, 756-759 (1958). 

H. Wilhelmsson, Scattering of electromagnetic waves by an electron bean and a dielectric cylinder, Doktor- 

savhandlingar vid Chalmers Tekniska Hogskola, Nr. 18 (Goteborg, 1958). 

The solution given in these papers is a special case of eq (61) when the source is allowed to recede to infinity 
(i.e., Po -^«>). 

(Paper 65B2-53)