Abstract

The electron temperature was evaluated using the line-to-continuum ratio method, and whether the plasma was close to the local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) state was investigated in detail. The results showed that approximately 5 μs after the plasma formed, the changes in the electron and excitation temperatures, which were determined using a Boltzmann plot, overlapped in the 15% error range, which indicated that the LTE state was reached. The recombination of electrons and ions and the free electron expansion process led to the deviation from the LTE state. The plasma’s expansion rate slowed over time, and when the expansion time was close to the ionization equilibrium time, the LTE state was almost reached. The McWhirter criterion was adopted to calculate the threshold electron density for different species, and the results showed that experimental electron density was greater than the threshold electron density, which meant that the LTE state may have existed. However, for the nonmetal element N, the threshold electron density was greater than the value experimental value approximately 0.8 μs after the plasma formed, which meant that LTE state did not exist for N.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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