Double-propagation mode in short-gap spark discharges driven by HV pulses with sub-ns rise time

H. Höft (Corresponding author), M. M. Becker, J. F. Kolb, T. Huiskamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The object of this study is the investigation of spark discharges ignited by unipolar positive rectangular high voltage (HV) pulses with 200 ps rise time and (15 ± 2) kV amplitude with 3 ns duration full width at half maximum in synthetic air in a 1.2 mm pin-to-pin gap (tungsten electrodes) at atmospheric pressure. The discharge development was recorded by synchronised iCCD and streak camera measurements in single-shot operation, revealing a two-stage propagation mode. The discharge started with a fast initial breakdown across the entire gap (∼10 mm ns-1) during the HV slope, followed by a much slower (∼0.1 mm ns-1) propagation originating from both electrodes towards the gap centre. The combination of high-resolution diagnostics with numerical modelling indicated that the initial breakdown phase is caused by the rapid increase of electric field strength during the steep HV slope, which leads to the simultaneous fast propagation of a positive and a negative streamer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number085002
Number of pages7
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • 2D fluid modeling
  • double streamer propagation
  • fast optical diagnostics
  • spark discharge
  • sub-ns breakdown


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