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Shock Wave Mediated Plume Chemistry for Molecular Formation in Laser Ablation Plasmas

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journal contribution
posted on 09.02.2016, 15:56 by Sivanandan S. Harilal, Brian E. Brumfield, Bret D. Cannon, Mark C. Phillips
Although it is relatively straightforward to measure the ionic, atomic, molecular, and particle emission features from laser ablation plumes, the associated kinetic and thermodynamic development leading to molecular and nanocluster formation remain one of the most important topics of analytical chemistry and material science. Very little is known, for instance, about the evolutionary paths of molecular and nanocluster formation and its relation to laser plume hydrodynamics. This is, to a large extent; due to the complexity of numerous physical processes that coexist in a transient laser-plasma system. Here, we report the formation mechanisms of molecules during complex interactions of a laser-produced plasma plume expanding from a high purity aluminum metal target into ambient air. It is found that the plume hydrodynamics plays a great role in redefining the plasma thermodynamics and molecular formation. Early in the plasma expansion, the generated shock wave at the plume edge acts as a barrier for the combustion process and molecular formation is prevalent after the shock wave collapse. The temporally and spatially resolved contour mapping of atoms and molecules in laser ablation plumes highlight the formation routes and persistence of species in the plasma and their relation to plume hydrodynamics.