Study of early laser-induced plasma dynamics: Transient electron density gradients via Thomson scattering and Stark Broadening, and the implications on laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy measurements

P. K. Diwakar, D. W. Hahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


To further develop laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) as an analytical technique, it is necessary to better understand the fundamental processes and mechanisms taking place during the plasma evolution. This paper addresses the very early plasma dynamics (first 100 ns) using direct plasma imaging, light scattering, and transmission measurements from a synchronized 532-nm probe laser pulse. During the first 50 ns following breakdown, significant Thomson scattering was observed while the probe laser interacted with the laser-induced plasma. The Thomson scattering was observed to peak 15-25 ns following plasma initiation and then decay rapidly, thereby revealing the highly transient nature of the free electron density and plasma equilibrium immediately following breakdown. Such an intense free electron density gradient is suggestive of a non-equilibrium, free electron wave generated by the initial breakdown and growth processes. Additional probe beam transmission measurements and electron density measurements via Stark broadening of the 500.1-nm nitrogen ion line corroborate the Thomson scattering observations. In concert, the data support the finding of a highly transient plasma that deviates from local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) conditions during the first tens of nanoseconds of plasma lifetime. The implications of this early plasma transient behavior are discussed in the context of plasma-analyte interactions and the role on LIBS measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1038-1046
Number of pages9
JournalSpectrochimica Acta - Part B Atomic Spectroscopy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • LTE
  • Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy
  • Plasma dynamics
  • Thermodynamic equilibrium
  • Thomson scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy

Cite this