This paper investigated two-dimensional spatial and temporal images of a copper emission line in laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), in order to clarify the excitation/de-excitation processes occurring in a laser-induced plasma. The measurements were carried out under different plasma gases (argon, krypton, helium, and nitrogen), pressure levels (100 – 900 Pa) and delay times (100 – 1000 ns) with the aim of monitoring their effects on the behavior of the copper emission. Depending on the plasma gas type and the pressure level, large differences were found in the plasma shape and temporal intensity evolution of the copper emission profile. Namely, krypton produced the most compact plasma emitting larger intensities, compared to argon and helium, and an increase in the gas pressure made these plasmas to shrink, which could be related principally to the stopping power of the applied gases. Through temporally resolved analysis, the delay profiles could be obtained for each plasma gas, indicating that the helium plasma disappeared more rapidly than the argon and krypton plasmas. It was suggested that the variations in the emission intensity would be determined by interactions between gas particles and highly energetic particles in the plasma breakdown as well as interactions between excited gas particles and copper species during plasma expansion. These insights could prove to be useful in the understanding of the background of LIBS as well as the optimization of its practical applications.
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