Flow dynamics and invasion by background gas of a supersonically expanding thermal plasma

R.A.H. Engeln, S. Mazouffre, P.J.W. Vankan, D.C. Schram, N. Sadeghi

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The transport of neutral argon atoms in an expanding thermal argon/hydrogen plasma is studied by means of laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy around 811 nm, on the long living Ar[4s] atoms. Although the Doppler shifted laser-induced fluorescence measurements are performed on argon atoms in the metastable Ar*(/sup 3/P/sub 2/) and resonant Ar*(/sup 3/P/sub 1/) states, it is argued that in the plasma jet the velocity distribution function of these Ar[4s] atoms images the velocity distribution functions of the ground-state argon atoms. From the results it is inferred that the velocity behaviour of the supersonically expanding argon gas can be predicted from the momentum balance, and the temperature from the: adiabatic relation between density and temperature. However, the adiabatic constant is found to be 1.4+or-0.1, smaller than the adiabatic constant of a neutral argon gas expansion which is 5/3. Both in the axial and in the radial directions the velocity distributions measured in the shock region show clear departures from thermodynamic equilibrium. From the radial velocity distribution it is concluded that background gas invades the supersonic part of the expanding plasma jet. The results on temperature and velocity in the subsonic region show that the radius of the plasma jet hardly increases after the stationary shock front, indicating that the flow pattern is geometrically determined
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-605
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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