Radiation of a cw CO<sub>2</sub> laser can be used to excite infrared emission spectra of nearly all molecular gases by adding small amounts of SF<sub>6</sub> as a sensitizer. These emission spectra show a thermal equilibrium between vibrational, rotational, and translational states with temperatures up to 1200 K. Temperature profiles of these gases about a focused cw CO<sub>2</sub> laser beam are analyzed by Raman spectroscopy. The detection of small amounts of sample and investigations of cw laser-induced chemical reactions are interesting potential applications.

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