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A time-resolved spectroscopic study is performed on the enhancement signals of He gas plasma emission using nanosecond (ns) and picosecond (ps) lasers in an orthogonal configuration. The ns laser is used for the He gas plasma generation and the ps laser is employed for the ejection of fast electrons from a metal target, which serves to excite subsequently the He atoms in the plasma. The study is focused on the most dominant He I 587.6 nm and He I 667.8 nm emission lines suggested to be responsible for the He-assisted excitation (HAE) mechanism. The time-dependent intensity enhancements induced by the fast electrons generated with a series of delayed ps laser ablations are deduced from the intensity time profiles of both He emission lines. The results clearly lead to the conclusion that the metastable excited triplet He atoms are actually the species overwhelmingly produced during the recombination process in the ns laser-induced He gas plasma. These metastable He atoms are believed to serve as the major energy source for the delayed excitation of analyte atoms in ns laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) using He ambient gas.


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