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Dual channel formation in a laser‐triggered spark gap

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4 Author(s)
Kushner, M.J. ; Spectra Technology, Inc. (formerly Mathematical Sciences Northwest, Inc.), 2755 Northup Way, Bellevue, Washington 98004 ; Kimura, W.D. ; Ford, D.H. ; Byron, S.R.

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During self‐break in spark‐gap switches, multiple streamers can form in close proximity to one another. The rate of expansion of these streamers is sufficiently fast that they can interact during the current pulse. To help understand how these closely spaced, expanding spark columns interact, a laser‐triggered spark gap has been studied in which two parallel columns (separation 1.3 mm) are simultaneously preionized, resulting in a pair of nearly identical, axisymmetric spark columns. The spark gap (electrode separation 1.2 cm) switches a 100 ns, 40–60 kV, 12‐20 kA, 1.5 Ω waterline. Interferograms of the expanding arc channels are obtained with a laser interferometer having a time and spatial resolution of 5 ns and 10 μm, respectively. Voltage and current were measured with an internal capacitive‐voltage divider and a current viewing resistor. The interferograms show that for initially identical axisymmetric columns, the individual channels do not merge into a single larger axisymmetric spark column. Instead, regions of high gas density remain inside the combined column long into the recovery period. The columns also do not remain axisymmetric as they grow, indicating a long‐range interaction between the channels. The voltage drop and resistance of the dual channel spark gaps changes by less than 15% from that of a single spark channel. A scaling model is presented to explain the resistance measurements and to predict the change in resistance for multichannel spark gaps.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:58 ,  Issue: 11 )