*Accepted Paper*

**Inserted:** 9 jun 2020

**Last Updated:** 28 oct 2021

**Journal:** J. Diff. Eq.

**Year:** 2022

**Abstract:**

For any $\Omega\subset \mathbb{R}^N$ smooth and bounded domain, we prove uniqueness of positive solutions of free boundary problems arising in plasma physics on $\Omega$ in a neat interval depending only by the best constant of the Sobolev embedding $H^{1}_0(\Omega)\hookrightarrow L^{2p}(\Omega)$, $p\in [1,\frac{N}{N-2})$ and show that the boundary density and a suitably defined energy share a universal monotonic behavior. At least to our knowledge, for $p>1$, this is the first result about the uniqueness for a domain which is not a two-dimensional ball and in particular the very first result about the monotonicity of solutions, which seems to be new even for $p=1$. The threshold, which is sharp for $p=1$, yields a new condition which guarantees that there is no free boundary inside $\Omega$. As a corollary, in the same range, we solve a long-standing open problem (dating back to the work of Berestycki-Brezis in 1980) about the uniqueness of variational solutions. Moreover, on a two-dimensional ball we describe the full branch of positive solutions, that is, we prove the monotonicity along the curve of positive solutions until the boundary density vanishes.

**Keywords:**
uniqueness, free boundary problem, bifurcation analysis, monotonicity

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