skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, July 12 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, July 13 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: On the nature of droplet production in DC glows with a liquid anode: mechanisms and potential applications
Abstract The interactions between plasma and liquid solutions give rise to the formation of chemically reactive species useful for many applications, but the mass transport in the interfacial region is usually limited and not fully understood. In this work, we report on the observation and explanation of droplet ejection at the plasma–liquid interface of a one-atmosphere glow discharge with the liquid anode. The impact of droplets emission on plasma properties is also analyzed by spectroscopy. The process, which is an efficient mass and charge transport mechanism, apparently occurs during discharge operation and thus constitutes a feedback vehicle between the discharge and the liquid. Distinctive from the well-known Talyor cone droplets associated with liquid cathodes, the observed droplets originate from the bubbles due to electrolysis and solvated air which does not require strong electric field at liquid surface. Instead, the droplets are ejected by bubble cavity rupture at the plasma–liquid interface and their size, initial speed are strongly dependent on the gravity, inertia and capillarity. The droplets emerge near the plasma attachment and are subsequently vaporized, emitting intense UV and visible light, which originated from excited OH radicals and sodium derived from the liquid electrolyte. Spectroscopy analysis confirmed that the bursting droplets generally reduce the gas temperature while their effects on electron density depend on the composition of the liquid anode. Results also show that droplets from NaCl solution increase the plasma electron density due to the lower ionization potential of sodium. These findings reveal a new mechanism for discharge maintenance and mass transport as well as suggest a simple approach to dispersing plasma-activated liquid into the gas phase and thus enhancing plasma–liquid interaction.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Plasma Sources Science and Technology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Self-Organized Patterns (SOPs) at plasma-liquid interface in atmospheric pressure plasma discharges refer to the formation of intricate and puzzling structures due to the interplay of electrodynamic and hydrodynamic processes. Studies conducted to date have shown that this phenomenon results in the formation of distinctive patterns such as circular ring, star, gear, dots, spikes, etc., and primarily depends on working gas, electrolyte type, gap distance, current, conductivity, etc. However, an adequate understanding of how these patterns change from one type to another is still not available. This study aims to elucidate the influence of initial liquid conductance ( σ i ) on the temporal evolution of SOPs in liquid-anode discharges. The discharge was generated in a pin-to-liquid anode configuration at a constant helium (He) flow rate of 500 sccm and DC applied voltage of 6 kV at a gap distance of 12 mm. Through the gradual increment of σ i from 1.8 μ S to 4820 μ S, we observe that the trend in the evolution of SOPS takes place as solid discs, spikes, dots, rings, double rings, and stars. The continuous formation of reactive species onto the liquid anode in all conductive solutions results in a decrease in pH, an increase in bulk liquid temperature, and an increase in total dissolved solutes, and these have been confirmed through experimental measurements. Observations using optical emission spectroscopy show that the electrons at the plasma-liquid interface participate in the reduction of cations followed by their excitation & ionization due to which electron density as well as emissions from excited species (mainly hydroxyl radicals & excited nitrogen) decrease with time. Our investigation provides experimental evidence on the presence of cations at the plasma-liquid interface required for SOP formation. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Plasmas interacting with liquid microdroplets are gaining momentum due to their ability to significantly enhance the reactivity transfer from the gas phase plasma to the liquid. This is, for example, critically important for efficiently decomposing organic pollutants in water. In this contribution, the role of ⋅ OH as well as non- ⋅ OH-driven chemistry initiated by the activation of small water microdroplets in a controlled environment by diffuse RF glow discharge in He with different gas admixtures (Ar, O 2 and humidified He) at atmospheric pressure is quantified. The effect of short-lived radicals such as O ⋅ and H ⋅ atoms, singlet delta oxygen (O 2 ( a 1 Δ g )), O 3 and metastable atoms of He and Ar, besides ⋅ OH radicals, on the decomposition of formate dissolved in droplets was analyzed using detailed plasma diagnostics, droplet characterization and ex situ chemical analysis of the treated droplets. The formate decomposition increased with increasing droplet residence time in the plasma, with ∼70% decomposition occurring within ∼15 ms of the plasma treatment time. The formate oxidation in the droplets is shown to be limited by the gas phase ⋅ OH flux at lower H 2 O concentrations with a significant enhancement in the formate decomposition at the lowest water concentration, attributed to e − /ion-induced reactions. However, the oxidation is diffusion limited in the liquid phase at higher gaseous ⋅ OH concentrations. The formate decomposition in He/O 2 plasma was similar, although with an order of magnitude higher O ⋅ radical density than the ⋅ OH density in the corresponding He/H 2 O plasma. Using a one-dimensional reaction–diffusion model, we showed that O 2 ( a 1 Δ g ) and O 3 did not play a significant role and the decomposition was due to O ⋅ , and possibly ⋅ OH generated in the vapor containing droplet-plasma boundary layer. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Charging of particles having diameters of tens of microns has been extensively studied at atmospheric pressure in the context of, for example, electrostatic precipitators where the focus was on unipolar charging. The ambipolar charging of particles in atmospheric pressure plasmas, and of droplets in particular, has received less attention. The plasma activation of droplets is of interest for water purification, fertilizer production and materials synthesis, all of which depend on the transport of the droplets through the plasma, which in turn depends on their charging. In this paper, we report on the transport dynamics of water droplets, tens of microns in diameter, carried by the gas flow through an atmospheric pressure radiofrequency glow discharge sustained in helium. The droplets pass through the plasma with minimal evaporation and without reaching the Rayleigh limit. The droplet trajectory in the presence and absence of the plasma provides insights on the forces acting on the droplet. The measurements were analyzed using results from a three-dimensional fluid model and a two-dimensional plasma hydrodynamics model. We found that the transport dynamics as the droplet enters and leaves the plasma are due to differential charging of the droplet in the plasma gradients of the bounding sheaths to the plasma.

    more » « less
  4. Nonthermal plasmas in contact with liquids have been shown to generate a variety of reactive species capable of initiating reduction–oxidation (redox) reactions at the electrochemically active plasma–liquid interface. In conventional electrochemical cells, selective redox chemistry is achieved by controlling the reduction potential at the solid electrode–electrolyte interface by applying a bias via an external circuit. In the case of plasma–liquid systems, an analogous means of tuning the reduction potential near the interface has not clearly been identified. When treated as a floating surface, the liquid is expected to adopt a net negative charge to balance the flux of hot electrons and relatively cold positive ions. The reduction potential near the plasma–liquid interface is hypothesized to be proportional to the floating potential, which can be approximated using an analytical model provided the plasma parameters are known. Herein, we present a framework for correlating the electron density and electron temperature of a noble gas plasma jet to the reduction potential near the plasma–liquid interface. The plasma parameters were acquired for an argon atmospheric plasma jet in contact with an aqueous solution by means of laser Thomson scattering. The reduction potential was determined using identical reference electrodes to measure the potential difference between the plasma–liquid interface and bulk solution. Interestingly, the measured reduction potentials near the plasma–liquid interface were found to be in good agreement with the model-predicted values determined using the plasma parameters obtained from the Thomson scattering experiments. 
    more » « less
  5. Voltage losses during discharge have been quantitatively investigated in a coulombically balanced biphenyl (Bp)|sodium-polysulfide (Na2Sx) organic redox flow battery. The individual half-cell electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) response was studied using a flow cell with an in-situ sodium/sodium-ion reference electrode. The anode, consisting of Bp/Bp− couple, contributed approximately 58% of the total cell overpotential during discharge. Further investigation revealed that kinetic overpotential dominating both anode and cathode voltage losses during discharge. The EIS response for the sodium-polysulfide half-cell exhibits two semicircles at high and low frequencies. Since there is limited literature relating the high-frequency semicircle to a physical process, this work extends the investigation of cathode high-frequency EIS features using in-situ and ex-situ electrochemical diagnostic tools. The Bp Nyquist plot consisted of a single semi-circle due to its simpler redox reaction relative to the more complicated Na2Sx. Tafel analysis was used to calculate exchange current density values, with Bp having a lower exchange current density than Na2Sx. This finding explains the relatively higher Bp kinetic voltage loss as compared to Na2Sx. 
    more » « less