With reference to laboratory Q-machine studies we analyze the dynamics of a plasma diode under external forcing. Assuming a strong axial magnetic field, the problem is analyzed in one spatial dimension by a particle-in-cell code. The cathode is assumed to be operated in electron rich conditions, supplying an abundance of electrons. We compare different forcing schemes with the results obtained by solving the van der Pol equation. In one method of forcing we apply an oscillation in addition to the DC end plate bias and consider both amplitude and frequency variations. An alternative method of perturbation consists of modelling an absorbing grid at some internal position. Also in this case we can have a constant frequency with varying amplitude or alternatively an oscillation with chirped frequency but constant amplitude. We find that the overall features of the forced van der Pol equation are recovered, but the details in the plasma response need more attention to the harmonic responses, requiring extensions of the model equation. The analysis is extended by introducing collisional effects, where we emphasize charge exchange collisions of ions, since these processes usually have the largest cross sections and give significant modifications of the diode performance. In particular we find a reduction in oscillator frequency, although a linear scaling of the oscillation time with the system length remains also in this case.
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