## Abstract

This colloquium examines the theoretical modeling of nonequilibrium low-temperature (tens of thousands of degrees) plasmas, which involves a juxtaposition of three distinct fields: atomic and molecular physics, for the input of scattering cross sections; statistical mechanics, for the kinetic modeling; and electromagnetic theory, for the simultaneous solution of Maxwell's equations. Cross sections come either from single-scattering beam experiments or, at very low energies (<0.5 eV), from multiple-scattering experiments on "swarms" in gases-the free diffusion or large Debye length limit of a plasma, where they are embedded in transport coefficient data. The same Boltzmann kinetic theory that has been developed to a high level of sophistication over the past 50 years, specifically for the purpose of unfolding these transport data, can be employed for low-temperature plasmas with appropriate modification to allow for self-consistent rather than externally prescribed fields. A full kinetic treatment of low-temperature plasmas is, however, a daunting task and remains at the developmental level. Fortunately, since the accuracy requirements for modeling plasmas are generally much less stringent than for swarms, such a sophisticated phase-space treatment is not always necessary or desirable, and a computationally more efficient but correspondingly less accurate macroscopic theoretical model in configuration space at the fluid level is often considered sufficient. There has been a proliferation of such fluid modeling in recent times and this approach is now routinely used in the design and development of a large variety of plasma technologies, ranging from plasma display panels to plasma etching reactors for microelectronic device fabrication. However, many of these models have been developed empirically with specific applications in mind, and rigor and sophistication vary accordingly. In this colloquium, starting from the governing Boltzmann kinetic equation, a unified, general formulation of fluid equations is given for both ions and electrons in gaseous media with transparent and internally consistent approximations, all benchmarked against established results. Thereby a fluid model is obtained that is appropriate for practical application but at the same time is based on a firmer physical foundation.

Original language | English |
---|---|

Pages (from-to) | 1303-1320 |

Number of pages | 18 |

Journal | Reviews of Modern Physics |

Volume | 77 |

Issue number | 4 |

DOIs | |

Publication status | Published - Oct 2005 |