Foundations of atmospheric pressure non-equilibrium plasmas

Non-equilibrium plasmas have been intensively studied over the past century in the context of material processing, environmental remediation, ozone generation, excimer lamps and plasma display panels. Research on atmospheric pressure non-equilibrium plasmas intensified over the last two decades leading to a large variety of plasma sources that have been developed for an extended application range including chemical conversion, medicine, chemical analysis and disinfection. The fundamental understanding of these discharges is emerging but there remain a lot of unexplained phenomena in these intrinsically complex plasmas. The properties of nonequilibrium plasmas at atmospheric pressure span over a huge range of electron densities as well as heavy particle and electron temperatures. This paper provides an overview of the key underlying processes that are important for the generation and stabilization of atmospheric pressure non-equilibrium plasmas. The unique physical and chemical properties of theses discharges are also summarized.