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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 25, 2024
  2. Abstract Non-equilibrium plasmas derive their low temperature reactivity from producing and driving energetic electrons and active species under large electric fields. Therefore, the impact of reactants on the plasma properties including electron number density, electric field, and electron temperature is critical for applications such as plasma methane (CH 4 ) reforming. Due to experimental complexity, electron properties and the electric field are rarely measured together in the same discharge. In this work, we combine time-resolved Thomson scattering and electric field induced second harmonic generation to probe electron temperature, electron density, and electric field strength in a 60 Torr CH 4 /Ar nanosecond-pulsed dielectric barrier discharge while varying the CH 4 mole fraction from 0% to 8%. These measurements are compared to a 1D numerical model to benchmark its predictions and identify areas of uncertainty. Nonlinear coupling between CH 4 addition, electron temperature, electron density, and the electric field was directly observed. Contrary to previous measurements in He, the electron temperature increased with CH 4 mole fraction. This rise in electron temperature is identified as electron heating by residual electric fields that increased with larger CH 4 mole fraction. Moreover, the electron number density has been found to decrease rapidly with the increase of methane mole fraction. Comparison of these measurements with the model yielded better agreement at higher CH 4 mole fractions and with the usage of ab initio calculated Ar electron-impact cross-sections from the B-spline R-matrix database. Furthermore, the calculated plasma properties are shown to be sensitive to the residual surface charge implanted on the quartz dielectric surfaces. Without considering surface charge in the simulations, the calculated electric field profiles agreed well with the measurements, but the electron properties were underpredicted by more than a factor of three. Therefore, measurements of either the electric field or electron properties measurements alone are insufficient to fully validate modeling predictions. 
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  3. In many low-temperature plasmas (LTPs), the OH radical and temperature represent key properties of plasma reactivity. However, OH and temperature measurements in weakly ionized LTPs are challenging, due to the low concentration and short lifetime of OH and the abrupt temperature rise caused by fast gas heating. To address such issues, this Letter combined cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy (CEAS) with femtosecond (fs) pulses to enable sensitive single-shot broadband measurements of OH and temperature with a time resolution of ∼180 ns in LTPs. Such a combination leveraged several benefits. With the appropriately designed cavity, an absorption gain of ∼66 was achieved, enhancing the actual OH detection limit by ∼55× to the 1011cm-3level (sub-ppm in this work) compared with single-pass absorption. Single-shot measurements were enabled while maintaining a time resolution of ∼180 ns, sufficiently short for detecting OH with a lifetime of ∼100 μs. With the broadband fs laser, ∼34,000 cavity modes were matched with ∼95 modes matched on each CCD pixel bandwidth, such that fs-CEAS became immune to the laser-cavity coupling noise and highly robust across the entire spectral range. Also, the broadband fs laser allowed simultaneous sensing of many absorption features to enable simultaneous multi-parameter measurements with enhanced accuracies.

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  4. This Letter reports a femtosecond ultraviolet laser absorption spectroscopy (fs-UV-LAS) for simultaneous in situ measurements of temperature and species. This fs-UV-LAS technique was demonstrated based on X 2 Π-A 2 Σ + transitions of OH radicals near 308 nm generated in low temperature plasmas and flames. The fs-UV-LAS technique has revealed three major diagnostic benefits. First, a series of absorption features within a spectral bandwidth of ∼3.2 nm near 308 nm were simultaneously measured and then enabled simultaneous multi-parameter measurements with enhanced accuracy. The results show that the temperature and OH concentration could be measured with accuracy enhanced by 29–88% and 58–91%, respectively, compared to those obtained with past two-narrow-line absorption methods. Second, an ultrafast time resolution of ∼120 picoseconds was accomplished for the measurements. Third, due to the large OH X 2 Π-A 2 Σ + transitions in the UV range, a simple single-pass absorption with a 3-cm path length was allowed for measurements in plasmas with low OH number density down to ∼2 × 10 13  cm −3 . Also due to the large OH UV transitions, single-shot fs absorption measurements were accomplished in flames, which was expected to offer more insights into chemically reactive flow dynamics. 
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  5. We report the development of a simple and sensitive two-beam hybrid femtosecond/picosecond pure rotational coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (fs/ps CARS) method to simultaneously measure the rotational and vibrational temperatures of diatomic molecules. Rotation–vibration non-equilibrium plays a key role in the chemistry and thermalization in low-temperature plasmas as well as thermal loading of hypersonic vehicles. This approach uses time-domain interferences between ground state and vibrationally excited N2molecules to intentionally induce coherence beating that leads to apparent non-Boltzmann distributions in the pure rotational spectra. These distortions enable simultaneous inference of both the rotational and vibrational temperatures. Coherence beating effects were observed in single-shot fs/ps CARS measurements of a 75 Torr N2DC glow discharge and were successfully modeled for rotational and vibrational temperature extraction. We show that this method can be more sensitive than a pure rotational fs/ps CARS approach using a spectrally narrow probe pulse. Lastly, we experimentally measured the beat frequencies via Fourier transform of the time-domain response and obtained excellent agreement with the model.

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