Planetary and space science vol:54 issue:7 pages:695-700
The collisional instability of the drift wave in a multi-component plasma is investigated. It is shown that when the electron and ion density gradients are different, e.g., due to the presence of a static third component or due to neutral drag effects, the drift mode becomes unstable. The instability is caused by the simultaneous action of the electron collisions with all other plasma species and the spatial difference of the density of the plasma components. This instability may be expected as a natural consequence of the stratification of a multi-component plasma placed in an external gravity field where it can operate for any amount of charge on heavy particles. Therefore it could develop in weakly ionized cold interstellar regions for example, when the heavy particles, i.e. charged grains, are a few tens of A in size, and carry typically 1, 2 charge. In the solar atmosphere, it may appear in the weakly ionized photospheric layers due to the convective motion of the neutral component. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.