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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.

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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