F. Brandi, L. Labate, D. Rapagnani, R. Buompane, A. di Leva, L. Gialanella,
Flowing plasma jets are increasingly investigated and used for surface treatments, including biological matter, and as soft ionization sources for mass spectrometry. They have the characteristic capability to transport energy from the plasma excitation region to the fowing afterglow, and therefore to a distant application surface, in a controlled manner. The ability to transport and deposit energy into a specimen is related to the actual energy transport mechanism. In case of a fowing helium plasma, the energy in the fowing afterglow may be carried by metastable helium atoms and long-lived helium dimer ions. In this work a systematic investigation of the optical and spectroscopic characteristics of a supersonic fowing helium plasma in vacuum and its afterglow as function of the helium gas density is presented. The experimental data are compared with numerical modeling of the plasma excitation and helium dimer ion formation supported by a Computational Fluid Dynamic simulation of the helium jet. The results indicate that the plasma afterglow is efectively due to helium dimer ions recombination via a three-body reaction.
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