spark gap piccture

Dynamics of the femtosecond laser-triggered spark gap

Abstract :

We present space and time resolved measurements of the air hydrodynamics inducedby femtosecond laser pulse excitation of the air gap between two electrodes at high potential difference. We explore both plasma-based and plasma-free gap excitation. The former uses the plasma left in the wake of femtosecond filamentation, while the latter exploits air heating by multiple-pulse resonant excitation of quantum molecular wavepackets. We find that the cumulative electrode-driven air density depression channel plays the dominant role in the gap evolution leading to breakdown. Femtosecond laser heating serves mainly to initiate the depression channel; the presence of filament plasma only augments the early heating.


DOI: 10.1364/OE.398836