Chemical and Biological Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 7-1-2017


Portable applications of microdischarges such as the chemical detection, remediation of gaseous wastes, or the destruction of volatile organic compounds will mandate operation in the presence of contaminant species. This work examines the temporal evolution of microdischarge optical and ultraviolet emissions during pulsed operation by experimental methods. By varying the pulse length of a microdischarge initiated in a 4-hole silicon microcavity array operating in a 655 Torr ambient primarily composed of Ne, we were able to measure the emission growth rates for different contaminant species native to the discharge environment as a function of pulse length. It was found that emission from hydrogen and oxygen impurities demonstrated similar rates of change, while emissions from molecular and atomic nitrogen, measured at 337.1 nm and 120 nm respectively, exhibited the lowest rate of change. We conclude that it is likely that O2 undergoes the same resonant energy transfer process between rare gas excimers that has been shown for H2. Further, efficient resonant processes were found to be favored during ignition and extinction phases of the pulse, while emission at the 337.1 nm line from N2 was favored during the intermediate stage of the plasma. In addition to experimental results, a zero-dimensional analysis is also presented to further understand the nature of the microdischarge.

Document Type




Degree Name

Chemical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Chemical and Biological Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Elizabeth Dirk

Second Committee Member

Dr. Sang M. Han

Third Committee Member

Dr. Ronold Manginell