Spatio-temporal analysis of power deposition and vibrational excitation in pulsed N2 microwave discharges from 1D fluid modelling and experiments

M. Altin, P. Viegas, L. Vialetto, G. J. van Rooij, P. Diomede*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Vibrational excitation of N-2 beyond thermodynamic equilibrium enhances the reactivity of this molecule and the production of radicals. Experimentally measured temporal and spatial profiles of gas and vibrational temperature show that strong vibrational non-equilibrium is found in a pulsed microwave discharges at moderate pressure (25 mbar) in pure N-2 outside the plasma core and as an effect of power pulsing. A one dimensional radial time-resolved self-consistent fluid model has been developed to study the mechanism of formation of vibrationally excited N-2. In addition to the temperature maps, time-resolved measurements of spontaneous optical emission, electron density and electron temperature are used to validate the model and the choice of input power density. The model reveals two regions in the plasma: a core where chemistry is dominated by power deposition and where vibrational excitation starts within the first similar to 10 mu s and an outer region reliant on radial transport, where vibrational excitation is activated slowly during the whole length of the pulse (200 mu s). The two regions are separated by a sharp gradient in the estimated deposited power density, which is revealed to be wider than the emission intensity profile used to estimate the plasma size. The low concentration of excited species outside the core prevents the gas from heating and the reduced quenching rates prevent the destruction of vibrationally excited N-2, thereby maintaining the observed high non-equilibrium.
Original languageEnglish
Article number045008
Number of pages21
JournalPlasma Sources Science & Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • microwave discharges
  • nitrogen
  • 1D fluid model
  • vibrational excitation
  • simulations and experiments


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