This paper investigates the effect of chamber pressure on plasma jet expansion characteristics. It presents images of the plasma jet corresponding to different chamber pressures and torch parameters and correlates them with enthalpy probe and pressure measurements recorded in different areas of the torch nozzle. A transition from an over-expanded to an under-expanded flow regime, as evidenced by a change in jet topology, is shown to be a function of chamber pressure. This transition pressure strongly depends on torch parameters and is characterized by an estimation of a rarefaction parameter based on nozzle exit and chamber pressure. At low chamber pressures, a progressive change from a continuum to a transition flow regime is shown by the thickening of the shock structures. Paper includes a German-language abstract.

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