- Study of high-pressure glow discharges generated by micro-structured electrode (MSE) arrays (2005)
- This thesis is devoted to the study of Micro Structured Electrode (MSE) sustained discharges. Innovative approaches in this work are i) the implementation of MSE arrays for high-pressure plasma generation and ii) the use of diode laser atomic absorption spectroscopy for investigating sub-millimetric discharges. By means of MSE arrays the discharge gap is scaled down to the sub-millimetric range and accordingly the working pressure could be increased up to atmospheric. It should be underlined that besides the ease of use, since expensive vacuum equipment is not required, high-pressure discharges offer also a high density of active species. A MSE consists of holes, regularly distributed in a composite sheet made of two metal layers separated by an insulator. The electrodes and insulator thickness and the diameter of the holes are in the 100 micrometer range. Based on these microstructures stable non-filamentary DC discharges are generated in noble gases and gas mixtures at pressures up to 1000 mbar. The MSE sustained discharge can be considered as a normal glow discharge whereby the excitation and ionization efficiency is increased by the specific electrode configuration (hollow cathode geometry). Large area high-pressure plasma can be achieved by parallel operation of a large number of microdischarges. Parallel operation of up to 200 microdischarges without individual ballast was proven for pressures up to 300 mbar. Furthermore, arrays of resistively decoupled microdischarges were operated up to atmospheric pressure. Spectral investigations have revealed the presence of highly energetic electrons (20 eV), a large density of atoms in metastable states (1013 cm-3) and a high electron density (1015 cm-3). Although the plasma confined inside the hole of the MSE may reach gas temperatures up to 1000 K, the ambient gas temperature immediately above the microstructure exceeds only slightly the room temperature. The reactivity of the MSE sustained discharge was demonstrated in respect to waste gas decomposition and surface treatment. The MSE arrays are providing a non-equilibrium high-pressure plasma, which is very promising for surface processing, plasma chemistry and generation of UV radiation.