Energy transfer models in nitrogen plasmas: Analysis of N2 (X1g +) - N (4Su) - E - interaction

K. L. Heritier, R. L. Jaffe, V. Laporta, M. Panesi

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The relaxation of N2 (X1g +) molecules in a background gas composed of N (4Su atoms and free electrons is studied by using an ideal isochoric and isothermic chemical reactor. A rovibrational state-to-state model is developed to study energy transfer process induced by free electron and atomic collisions. The required cross sections and the corresponding rate coefficients are taken from two well-known kinetic databases: NASA Ames kinetic mechanism for the description of the N2 (X1g +)- N (4Su processes and the Phys4Entry database for the electron driven processes, N2 (X1g +)-e-. The evolution of the population densities of each individual rovibrational level is explicitly determined via the numerical solution of the master equation for temperatures ranging from 10000 to 30 000 K. It was found that the distribution of the rovibrational energy levels of N2 (X1g +)) is strongly influenced by the electron driven collisional processes, which promote the excitation of the low lying vibrational levels. The macroscopic vibrational energy relaxation is governed by the molecule-atom collisions, when free electrons, initially cold are relaxing to the final heat-bath temperature. Thus, the main role of the free electrons is to ensure the equilibration of vibrational and free electron excitation, thus validating the existence of the local equilibrium TV-Te. However, if electrons and heavy particles are assumed to be in equilibrium at the heat bath temperature, electron driven processes dominate the vibrational relaxation. Finally, we have assessed the validity of the Landau-Teller model for the description of the inelastic energy transfer between molecules and free electrons. In the case of free-electron temperatures lower than 10 000 K, Landau-Teller relaxation model gives an accurate description of the vibrational relaxation, while at higher temperatures the error in the predictions can be significant and the model should not be used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number184302
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number18
StatePublished - Nov 14 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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