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Electron temperature

If the velocities of a group of electrons, e.g. in a plasma, follow a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, then the electron temperature is well-defined as the temperature of that distribution. For other distributions, two-thirds of the average energy is often referred to as the temperature, since for a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution with three degrees of freedom, \langle E \rangle = (3/2) \langle k_BT \rangle.

Additional recommended knowledge

The SI unit of temperature is the kelvin (K), but using the above relation the electron temperature is often expressed in terms of the energy unit electronvolt (eV). 1 K corresponds to 8.617343(15)×10-5 eV; this factor is the ratio of the Boltzmann constant to the elementary charge.

The electron temperature of a plasma can be several orders of magnitude higher than the temperature of the neutral species or of the ions. This is a result of two facts. First, many plasma sources heat the electrons more strongly than the ions. Second, atoms and ions are much heavier than electrons, and energy transfer in a two-body collision is much more efficient if the masses are similar.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Electron_temperature". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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