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Pure Appl. Chem. Vol. 74, No. 3, pp. 337-347 (2002)

Pure and Applied Chemistry

Vol. 74, Issue 3

Nonequilibrium discharges in air and nitrogen plasmas at atmospheric pressure*

Charles H. Kruger, Christophe O. Laux, Lan Yu, Denis M. Packan, and Laurent Pierrot

High Temperature Gas Dynamics Laboratory, Mechanical Engineering Department, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Abstract: Diffuse glow discharges were produced in low temperature (<2000 K) atmospheric pressure air and nitrogen plasmas with electron number densities in excess of 1012 cm­3, more than six orders of magnitude higher than in thermally heated air at 2000 K. The measured discharge characteristics compare well with the predictions of a two-temperature kinetic model. Experimental and modeling results show that the steady-state electron number density exhibits an S-shaped dependence on the electron temperature, a behavior resulting from competition between ionization and charge-transfer reactions. Non-Maxwellian effects are shown to be unimportant for the prediction of steady-state electron number densities. The power requirements of DC discharges at atmospheric pressure can be reduced by several orders of magnitude using short repetitive high-voltage pulses. Between consecutive pulses, the plasma is sustained by the finite rate of electron recombination. Repetitive discharges with a 100-kHz, 12-kV, 10-ns pulse generator were demonstrated to produce over 1012 electrons/cm3 with an average power of 12 W/cm3, 250 times smaller than a DC discharge at 1012 cm­3.

* Lecture presented at the 15th International Symposium on Plasma Chemistry, Orléans, France, 9-13 July 2001. Other presentations are presented in this issue, pp. 317–492.


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