Results are presented of a study of the plasma induced by the irradiation of a steel target by an excimer laser (308 nm, 28 ns, 40 mJ/pulse). Plasmas were formed in atmospheres of air, argon, nitrogen, and helium, at pressures from 0.5 Torr to 760 Torr. The maximum spectral intensity and line-to-background ratio occur in an atmosphere of argon at a pressure of 50 Torr. Spectroscopic techniques were used to measure time-integrated electron temperature and density profiles of the plasmas.

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