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Many papers have sought correlations between the parameters of secondary particles generated above the beam/work piece interaction zone, dynamics of processes in the keyhole, and technological processes. Low- and high-frequency oscillations of the current, collected by plasma have been observed above the welding zone during electron beam welding. Low-frequency oscillations of secondary signals are related to capillary instabilities of the keyhole, however; the physical mechanisms responsible for the high-frequency oscillations (>10 kHz) of the collected current are not fully understood. This paper shows that peak frequencies in the spectra of the collected high-frequency signal are dependent on the reciprocal distance between the welding zone and collector electrode. From the relationship between current harmonics frequency and distance of the collector/welding zone, it can be estimated that the draft velocity of electrons or phase velocity of excited waves is about 1600 m/s. The dispersion relation with the properties of ion-acoustic waves is related to electron temperature 10 000 K, ion temperature 2 400 K and plasma density 1016 m−3, which is analogues to the parameters of potential-relaxation instabilities, observed in similar conditions. The estimated critical density of the transported current for creating the anomalous resistance state of plasma is of the order of 3 A·m−2, i.e. 8 mA for a 3–10 cm2 collector electrode. Thus, it is assumed that the observed high-frequency oscillations of the current collected by the positive collector electrode are caused by relaxation processes in the plasma plume above the welding zone, and not a direct demonstration of oscillations in the keyhole.


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