A Boltzmann plot for many iron atomic lines having excitation energies of 3.3-6.9 eV was investigated in glow discharge plasmas when argon or neon was employed as the plasma gas. The plot did not show a linear relationship over a wide range of the excitation energy, but showed that the emission lines having higher excitation energies largely deviated from a normal Boltzmann distribution whereas those having low excitation energies (3.3-4.3 eV) well followed it. This result would be derived from an overpopulation among the corresponding energy levels. A probable reason for this is that excitations for the high-lying excited levels would be caused predominantly through a Penning-type collision with the metastable atom of argon or neon, followed by recombination with an electron and then stepwise de-excitations which can populate the excited energy levels just below the ionization limit of iron atom. The non-thermal excitation occurred more actively in the argon plasma rather than the neon plasma, because of a difference in the number density between the argon and the neon metastables. The Boltzmann plots yields important information on the reason why lots of Fe I lines assigned to high-lying excited levels can be emitted from glow discharge plasmas.
- Boltzmann plot
- Excitation mechanism
- Glow discharge optical emission spectrometry
- Plasma gas
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics