Hollow plasma structure during the breakdown phase of nanosecond pulsed pin-pin discharges generated with overvoltage

Chuan Jie Chen, Marien Simeni Simeni, Shou Zhe Li, Edward V. Barnat, Peter J. Bruggeman

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Atmospheric pressure nanosecond repetitive pulsed discharges are of interest for applications in combustion, material processing, plasma medicine and gas treatment. In this paper the observation of a hollow structure at the ignition stage of such discharge in a pin-pin geometry is reported. Plasma images show that the phenomenon occurs in a variety of gases (helium, humid helium, argon and air) suggesting that it is in first approximation non-species specific. The phenomenon is investigated in detail in pure helium discharges for peak applied voltages between 3 and 6 kV and 200 ns voltage pulse duration by performing time-resolved optical emission spectroscopy measurements of electron density, gas temperature and electric field. All the measurements were performed at the mid-gap during the early stages of the discharge, near the breakdown. The transition from a homogeneous filament to a hollow structure occurs between 4 and 5 kV in helium. Electron density measurements by Stark broadening of the He I line at 492.2 nm show no significant difference in electron densities for the applied voltage between 3 and 6 kV. In all cases, a maximum electron density of about 3.5 1021 m-3 was found. Electric field measurements performed by Stark polarization spectroscopy of the He I transition at 492.2 nm and of its forbidden counterpart show electric field strengths higher than the DC breakdown field of helium at atmospheric pressure consistent with the generation of the discharges with overvoltage. Moreover, a correlation between electric field values and the appearance of the hollow structure is observed and, remarkably, the phenomenon is not sensitive to the pre-ionization level (memory effect). Possible mechanisms for the phenomenon are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035020
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • electric field
  • Hollow structure
  • nanosecond pulsed discharge
  • overvoltage


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