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Triggering, guiding and deviation of long air spark discharges with femtosecond laser filament
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View: Figures


Image of FIG. 1.

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FIG. 1.

Experimental setup.

Image of FIG. 2.

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FIG. 2.

Integrated picture of the discharge and measurements of the voltage and current in the case of an unguided discharge (a,b) and laser guided discharge (c,d).

Image of FIG. 3.

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FIG. 3.

Average breakdown field with the laser as a function of the delay τ L between the voltage front and the laser filament for a positive (a) and a negative applied voltage (b). Breakdown voltage in absence of laser is shown as a dashed orange line and the grey continuous line shows the corresponding voltage waveform.

Image of FIG. 4.

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FIG. 4.

Delay between the laser pulse and the triggered discharge as a function of the delay between the voltage front and the laser for a negative (red triangles) and a positive (black squares) applied voltage.

Image of FIG. 5.

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FIG. 5.

Setup principle for deviation tests.

Image of FIG. 6.

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FIG. 6.

Image of a deviated discharge with a positive applied voltage polarity. Corresponding voltage and current signals are presented on the right. Time t = 0 corresponds to the arrival of laser pulse.

Image of FIG. 7.

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FIG. 7.

Image of a deviated discharge with negative applied voltage polarity where streamers start to develop on the tip. Corresponding voltage and current signals are presented on the right. Time t = 0 corresponds to the arrival of laser pulse.

Image of FIG. 8.

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FIG. 8.

Setup principles for long distance laser guiding of discharges.

Image of FIG. 9.

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FIG. 9.

Example of an unguided (a) and guided discharge (b) obtained with the two electrodes aligned on the laser axis and with a gap of 60 cm. The discharge current reaches 30 kA for an applied voltage of +360 kV. In the guided case the laser is sent at time t = 0 s.

Image of FIG. 10.

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FIG. 10.

Experimental setup. L is the gap length, d 1 the distance from the first electrode and d 2 from the second electrode.

Image of FIG. 11.

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FIG. 11.

Unguided and guided discharge obtained with the first electrode 20 cm away from the filament. L = 30 cm, d 1 = 20 cm and d 2 = 0 cm.

Image of FIG. 12.

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FIG. 12.

Images (side views) of guided discharge obtained with the second electrode 20 cm away from the filament (a) and with d 1 = d 2 = 5 cm. The gap length was L = 30 cm.

Image of FIG. 13.

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FIG. 13.

Images (top views) of free (a) and guided (b) discharges obtained with laser propagating laterally 5 cm away from the electrodes gap. The gap length was L = 30 cm.

Image of FIG. 14.

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FIG. 14.

Calculated on axis electric field induced between the sphere (z = 0) and the plane electrode (z = 2.5 m) presented in Figure 1 for an applied voltage of 0.4 and 1.25 MV corresponding respectively to the streamer inception voltage and the average breakdown voltage in presence of the laser filament.


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In the perspective of the laser lightning rod, the ability of femtosecond filaments to trigger and to guide large scale discharges has been studied for several years. The present paper reports recent experimental results showing for the first time that filaments are able not only to trigger and guide but also to divert an electric discharge from its normal path. Laser filaments are also able to divert the spark without contact between laser and electrodes at large distance from the laser. A comparison between negative and positive discharge polarities also reveals important discrepancies in the guiding mechanism.


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Scitation: Triggering, guiding and deviation of long air spark discharges with femtosecond laser filament