Understanding the production mechanisms of ozone and other reactive species in atmospheric pressure dielectric barrier discharges (DBDs) has become increasingly important for the optimization and commercial success of these plasma devices in emerging applications, such as plasma medicine, plasma agriculture, and plasma catalysis. In many of these applications, input power modulation is exploited as a means to maintain a low gas temperature. Although the chemical pathways leading to ozone production/destruction and their strong temperature dependence are relatively well understood, the effect of the on-time duration on the performance of these modulated DBDs remains largely unexplored. In this study, we use electrical and optical diagnostics, as well as computational methods, to assess the performance of a modulated DBD device. The well-established Lissajous method for measuring the power delivered to the discharge is not suitable for modulated DBDs because the transients generated at the beginning of each pulse become increasingly important in short on-time modulated plasmas. It is shown that for the same input power and modulation duty-cycle, shorter on-time pulses result in significantly enhanced ozone production, despite their operation at slightly higher temperatures. The key underpinning mechanism that causes this counter-intuitive observation is the more efficient net generation rate of ozone during the plasma on-time due to the lower accumulation of NO2
in the discharge volume.
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