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The dual channel triggering of a spark gap switch by fiberoptic transported ruby laser radiation is discussed. The spark gap is the output switch of a 20-ns water dielectric Blumlein generator. The Blumlein generator is pulse charged in approximately 250 ns by a three-stage Marx bank to 150 kV. The spark gap is operated at a pressure of 2540 torr with a mixture of Ar and N2 gas and an electrode separation of 2 cm. Two 1-mm diameter quartz optical fibers are used to transport 2 2-MW laser beams into the spark gap onto points 6 cm apart on the target electrode. The two beams are obtained by optical splitting of the output of a single laser. Under appropriate conditions, two arc channels are initiated by the laser beams along their paths. A small improvement in current rise time for dual channel events over single channel events is observed. Moreover, the number of successful dual channel events is observed to depend on the time of laser entry with reference to the beginning of the charging pulse, and not the gap polarity. The correlation of this behavior with the space charge build up in the slightly over-volted gap is discussed.
Date of Publication: Dec. 1982