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The influence of electron density on the formation of streamers in electrical discharges triggered with ultrashort laser pulses

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10 Author(s)
B. La Fontaine ; INRS-Energie, Varennes, Que., Canada ; F. Vidal ; D. Comtois ; Ching-Yuan Chien
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In an ongoing program using ultrashort laser pulses to provoke discharges in air over considerable distances at electric fields below breakdown threshold, we have studied the conditions for the onset of streamers in such laser-produced plasmas, both experimentally and through numerical simulations. The results demonstrate the importance of the electron density and of its gradient on the generation of streamers. Also, a significant reduction of the breakdown voltage for a 30 cm plane-plane gap in air was observed with a laser pulse energy of 15 mJ. Finally, a direct comparison of laser-induced breakdown in air and in nitrogen shows the influence of electron attachment to oxygen on the discharge process

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 3 )