Optical emission spectroscopy is used to study the dynamics of the plasma generated by pulsed-laser irradiation of a MgB2 target, both in a vacuum and at different Ar buffer gas pressures. The analysis of the time-resolved emission of selected species shows that the Ar background gas strongly influences the plasma dynamics. Above a fixed pressure, plasma propagation into Ar leads to the formation of blast waves causing both a considerable increase of the fraction of excited Mg atoms and a simultaneous reduction of their kinetic flux energy. These results can be particularly useful for optimizing MgB2 thin-film deposition processes. (C) 2002 American Institute of Physics.
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