Thomson scattering is reviewed as a diagnostic technique for the determination of electron energy distributions and concentrations in a plasma. Both theoretical and experimental aspects are considered, and scattering spectra which would be expected for high voltage spark discharges and inductively coupled plasmas at atmospheric pressure are computed. A nonlinear method bearing the same relationship to Thomson scattering as CARS does to linear Raman spectroscopy is mentioned, and its properties are compared to the more common linear Thomson technique. Related plasma diagnostics involving high power laser scattering are also discussed.

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