We have used the collisional broadening of neutral argon lines to determine the electron density and gas temperature of a microwave discharge at atmospheric pressure. The gas temperature can be obtained from the Van der Waals broadening, provided that the Stark broadening is negligible. This can be achieved by using lines from low-lying levels (close to the ground state). On the other hand, lines corresponding to transitions from high-lying levels, which are more sensitive to Stark (quadratic) broadening, can be utilized to determine electron density. The electron density values obtained from the quadratic Stark broadening of argon atoms are in reasonable agreement with those derived from the linear Stark broadening of the Hβ line. The proposed method ensures perturbation-free access to plasma parameters, which is not the case when adding hydrogen to the discharge, even in a small amount, to observe the Balmer series lines.
M. Christova, E. Castaños-Martinez, M.D. Calzada, Y. Kabouzi, J.M. Luque, and M. Moisan, "Electron Density and Gas Temperature from Line Broadening in an Argon Surface-Wave-Sustained Discharge at Atmospheric Pressure," Appl. Spectrosc. 58, 1032-1037 (2004)