We investigated the effect of helium and nitrogen pressures on the dynamics of molecular species formation during laser ablation of carbon. For producing plasmas, planar carbon targets were irradiated with 1064 nm, 6 ns pulses from an Nd:yttrium aluminum garnet laser. The emission from excited C2 and CN molecules was studied using space resolved optical time-of-flight emission spectroscopy and spectrally resolved fast imaging. The intensity oscillations in C2 and CN monochromatic fast imaging and their emission space-time contours suggest that recombination is the major mechanism of C2 formation within the laser ablation carbon plumes in the presence of ambient gas.

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