Statistical analysis on branching characteristics of positive streamer discharges in N2-O2 mixtures

Yihao Guo, Sander Nijdam (Corresponding author)

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Streamers are fast-propagating ionization channels that can usually branch and form complex tree-like structures in dielectric media. In this paper, we perform experiments on positive streamers in different N2-O2 mixtures under varying conditions including voltage, pressure, and electrode geometry, with at least 125 discharge images captured for each condition. We present a statistical analysis on streamer branching characteristics from 3D models that are reconstructed by stereoscopic stroboscopic images and our dedicated semi-automatic 3D reconstruction method. We found that by varying the concentration of O2, the morphology and branching characteristics are greatly changed. Specifically, the average branching angle decrease significantly from 90 in air to 66 in 1% O2, suggesting that photoionization plays an important role in streamer branching. The branching angles in our work are generally larger than previously reported results due to the resolved 3D structures of discharges by our method. A linear relation between the streamer diameter ratio and the branching direction difference of two daughter branches is found, which intersects the vertical axis almost at unity. It is also found that the average branching angles, streamer velocities and diameters increase as the voltage increases. This is again attributed to stronger photoionization effect under higher voltages. The velocities and diameters are similar at different pressures but at the same reduced electric field. The average branching angle decreases from 90 at 133 mbar to 79 at 200 mbar. This suggests that stochastic fluctuations become dominant over photoionization effect at higher pressures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number045006
Number of pages13
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number4
Early online date10 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • branching angle
  • branching characteristics
  • photoionization
  • positive streamers
  • statistical analysis


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