Abstract

Femtosecond laser pulses with sufficiently high peak power leave tracks of dilute plasma in their wakes. Potential use of this plasma for channeling electrical discharges in the atmosphere has been discussed and demonstrated in laboratory-scale experiments. However, the electron density in femtosecond laser-generated plasma decays rapidly on the nanosecond time scale, due to recombination and electron attachment to air molecules. The finite plasma lifetime limits the maximum extent of the guided electrical breakdown to a few meters. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that the limitation associated with the short plasma lifetime can be overcome though optical heating of the plasma filaments by an auxiliary energetic laser pulse with a duration in the nanosecond range. We show that the breakdown electric field can be reduced by up to a factor of 4 with a heater fluence of about 1kJ/cm2. This approach could have applications in channeling long-range electrical discharges in the atmosphere and, potentially, in channeling lightning strikes.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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References

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2013 (1)

2012 (3)

P. Polynkin, B. Pasenhow, N. Driscoll, M. Scheller, E. M. Wright, J. V. Moloney, Phys. Rev. A 86, 043410 (2012).
[Crossref]

S. Xu, J. Bernhardt, M. Sharifi, W. Liu, S. L. Chin, Laser Phys. 22, 195 (2012).
[Crossref]

P. Polynkin, Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 164102 (2012).
[Crossref]

2011 (3)

Z. Sun, J. Chen, W. Rudolph, Phys. Rev. E 83, 046408 (2011).
[Crossref]

M. N. Schneider, A. N. Zheltikov, R. B. Miles, Phys. Plasmas 18, 063509 (2011).
[Crossref]

P. Polynkin, J. V. Moloney, Appl. Phys. Lett. 99, 151103 (2011).
[Crossref]

2009 (1)

2007 (2)

A. Couairon, A. Mysyrowicz, Phys. Rep. 441, 47 (2007).
[Crossref]

L. Berge, S. Skupin, R. Nuter, J. Kasparian, J.-P. Wolf, Rep. Prog. Phys. 70, 1633 (2007).
[Crossref]

2002 (1)

2001 (1)

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, S. Hüller, P. Mora, Phys. Rev. E 64057401 (2001).
[Crossref]

2000 (1)

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, Opt. Commun. 181, 123 (2000).
[Crossref]

1999 (2)

1996 (1)

M. Miki, T. Shindo, Y. Aihara, J. Phys. D 29, 1984 (1996).
[Crossref]

1995 (2)

A. Braun, G. Korn, X. Liu, D. Du, J. Squier, G. Mourou, Opt. Lett. 20, 73 (1995).
[Crossref]

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

1971 (1)

D. W. Koopman, T. D. Wilkerson, J. Appl. Phys. 42, 1883 (1971).
[Crossref]

Aihara, Y.

M. Miki, T. Shindo, Y. Aihara, J. Phys. D 29, 1984 (1996).
[Crossref]

Akturk, S.

Andre, Y.-B.

Berge, L.

L. Berge, S. Skupin, R. Nuter, J. Kasparian, J.-P. Wolf, Rep. Prog. Phys. 70, 1633 (2007).
[Crossref]

Bernhardt, J.

S. Xu, J. Bernhardt, M. Sharifi, W. Liu, S. L. Chin, Laser Phys. 22, 195 (2012).
[Crossref]

Bernstein, A.

Bernstein, R.

Biegert, J.

Braun, A.

Chen, J.

Z. Sun, J. Chen, W. Rudolph, Phys. Rev. E 83, 046408 (2011).
[Crossref]

Cheng, Y.-H.

Chin, S. L.

S. Xu, J. Bernhardt, M. Sharifi, W. Liu, S. L. Chin, Laser Phys. 22, 195 (2012).
[Crossref]

Couairon, A.

A. Couairon, A. Mysyrowicz, Phys. Rep. 441, 47 (2007).
[Crossref]

D’Amico, C.

Diels, J.-C.

Driscoll, N.

P. Polynkin, B. Pasenhow, N. Driscoll, M. Scheller, E. M. Wright, J. V. Moloney, Phys. Rev. A 86, 043410 (2012).
[Crossref]

Du, D.

Esarey, E.

P. Volfbeyn, E. Esarey, W. P. Leemans, Phys. Plasmas 6, 2269 (1999).
[Crossref]

Franco, M.

B. Zhou, S. Akturk, B. Prade, Y.-B. Andre, A. Houard, Y. Liu, M. Franco, C. D’Amico, E. Salmon, Z.-Q. Hao, N. Lascoux, A. Mysyrowicz, Opt. Express 17, 11450 (2009).
[Crossref]

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, S. Hüller, P. Mora, Phys. Rev. E 64057401 (2001).
[Crossref]

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, Opt. Commun. 181, 123 (2000).
[Crossref]

Fujii, T.

Hao, Z.-Q.

Houard, A.

Hüller, S.

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, S. Hüller, P. Mora, Phys. Rev. E 64057401 (2001).
[Crossref]

Izawa, Y.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Jhajj, N.

Kalkner, W.

Kasparian, J.

Kawasaki, Z.-I.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Klingbeil, L.

Koopman, D. W.

D. W. Koopman, T. D. Wilkerson, J. Appl. Phys. 42, 1883 (1971).
[Crossref]

Korn, G.

Kubecek, V.

Lascoux, N.

Leemans, W. P.

P. Volfbeyn, E. Esarey, W. P. Leemans, Phys. Plasmas 6, 2269 (1999).
[Crossref]

Liu, W.

S. Xu, J. Bernhardt, M. Sharifi, W. Liu, S. L. Chin, Laser Phys. 22, 195 (2012).
[Crossref]

Liu, X.

Liu, Y.

Matsuura, K.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Miki, M.

M. Miki, T. Shindo, Y. Aihara, J. Phys. D 29, 1984 (1996).
[Crossref]

Milchberg, H. M.

Miles, R. B.

M. N. Schneider, A. N. Zheltikov, R. B. Miles, Phys. Plasmas 18, 063509 (2011).
[Crossref]

Moloney, J. V.

P. Polynkin, B. Pasenhow, N. Driscoll, M. Scheller, E. M. Wright, J. V. Moloney, Phys. Rev. A 86, 043410 (2012).
[Crossref]

P. Polynkin, J. V. Moloney, Appl. Phys. Lett. 99, 151103 (2011).
[Crossref]

Mora, P.

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, S. Hüller, P. Mora, Phys. Rev. E 64057401 (2001).
[Crossref]

Mourou, G.

Mysyrowicz, A.

Nuter, R.

L. Berge, S. Skupin, R. Nuter, J. Kasparian, J.-P. Wolf, Rep. Prog. Phys. 70, 1633 (2007).
[Crossref]

Pasenhow, B.

P. Polynkin, B. Pasenhow, N. Driscoll, M. Scheller, E. M. Wright, J. V. Moloney, Phys. Rev. A 86, 043410 (2012).
[Crossref]

Polynkin, P.

P. Polynkin, Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 164102 (2012).
[Crossref]

P. Polynkin, B. Pasenhow, N. Driscoll, M. Scheller, E. M. Wright, J. V. Moloney, Phys. Rev. A 86, 043410 (2012).
[Crossref]

P. Polynkin, J. V. Moloney, Appl. Phys. Lett. 99, 151103 (2011).
[Crossref]

Prade, B.

B. Zhou, S. Akturk, B. Prade, Y.-B. Andre, A. Houard, Y. Liu, M. Franco, C. D’Amico, E. Salmon, Z.-Q. Hao, N. Lascoux, A. Mysyrowicz, Opt. Express 17, 11450 (2009).
[Crossref]

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, S. Hüller, P. Mora, Phys. Rev. E 64057401 (2001).
[Crossref]

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, Opt. Commun. 181, 123 (2000).
[Crossref]

Raizer, Y. P.

Y. P. Raizer, Gas Discharge Physics (Springer, 1997).

Rambo, P.

Rethmeier, K.

Rodríguez, M.

Rudolph, W.

Z. Sun, J. Chen, W. Rudolph, Phys. Rev. E 83, 046408 (2011).
[Crossref]

Salmon, E.

Sauerbrey, R.

Scheller, M.

P. Polynkin, B. Pasenhow, N. Driscoll, M. Scheller, E. M. Wright, J. V. Moloney, Phys. Rev. A 86, 043410 (2012).
[Crossref]

Schneider, M. N.

M. N. Schneider, A. N. Zheltikov, R. B. Miles, Phys. Plasmas 18, 063509 (2011).
[Crossref]

Schwarz, J.

Sharifi, M.

S. Xu, J. Bernhardt, M. Sharifi, W. Liu, S. L. Chin, Laser Phys. 22, 195 (2012).
[Crossref]

Shimada, Y.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Shindo, T.

M. Miki, T. Shindo, Y. Aihara, J. Phys. D 29, 1984 (1996).
[Crossref]

Simokura, N.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Skupin, S.

L. Berge, S. Skupin, R. Nuter, J. Kasparian, J.-P. Wolf, Rep. Prog. Phys. 70, 1633 (2007).
[Crossref]

Sonoi, Y.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Squier, J.

Stahlkopf, K.

Sun, Z.

Z. Sun, J. Chen, W. Rudolph, Phys. Rev. E 83, 046408 (2011).
[Crossref]

Tzortzakis, S.

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, S. Hüller, P. Mora, Phys. Rev. E 64057401 (2001).
[Crossref]

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, Opt. Commun. 181, 123 (2000).
[Crossref]

Uchida, S.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Ushio, T.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Volfbeyn, P.

P. Volfbeyn, E. Esarey, W. P. Leemans, Phys. Plasmas 6, 2269 (1999).
[Crossref]

Wahlstrand, J. K.

Wang, D.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Wilkerson, T. D.

D. W. Koopman, T. D. Wilkerson, J. Appl. Phys. 42, 1883 (1971).
[Crossref]

Wille, H.

Wolf, J.-P.

Woste, L.

Wright, E. M.

P. Polynkin, B. Pasenhow, N. Driscoll, M. Scheller, E. M. Wright, J. V. Moloney, Phys. Rev. A 86, 043410 (2012).
[Crossref]

Xu, S.

S. Xu, J. Bernhardt, M. Sharifi, W. Liu, S. L. Chin, Laser Phys. 22, 195 (2012).
[Crossref]

Yamanaka, C.

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

Yu, J.

Zheltikov, A. N.

M. N. Schneider, A. N. Zheltikov, R. B. Miles, Phys. Plasmas 18, 063509 (2011).
[Crossref]

Zhou, B.

Appl. Phys. Lett. (2)

P. Polynkin, J. V. Moloney, Appl. Phys. Lett. 99, 151103 (2011).
[Crossref]

P. Polynkin, Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 164102 (2012).
[Crossref]

J. Appl. Phys. (1)

D. W. Koopman, T. D. Wilkerson, J. Appl. Phys. 42, 1883 (1971).
[Crossref]

J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. (1)

D. Wang, T. Ushio, Z.-I. Kawasaki, K. Matsuura, Y. Shimada, S. Uchida, C. Yamanaka, Y. Izawa, Y. Sonoi, N. Simokura, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 57, 459 (1995).
[Crossref]

J. Opt. Technol. (1)

J. Phys. D (1)

M. Miki, T. Shindo, Y. Aihara, J. Phys. D 29, 1984 (1996).
[Crossref]

Laser Phys. (1)

S. Xu, J. Bernhardt, M. Sharifi, W. Liu, S. L. Chin, Laser Phys. 22, 195 (2012).
[Crossref]

Opt. Commun. (1)

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, Opt. Commun. 181, 123 (2000).
[Crossref]

Opt. Express (2)

Opt. Lett. (2)

Phys. Plasmas (2)

M. N. Schneider, A. N. Zheltikov, R. B. Miles, Phys. Plasmas 18, 063509 (2011).
[Crossref]

P. Volfbeyn, E. Esarey, W. P. Leemans, Phys. Plasmas 6, 2269 (1999).
[Crossref]

Phys. Rep. (1)

A. Couairon, A. Mysyrowicz, Phys. Rep. 441, 47 (2007).
[Crossref]

Phys. Rev. A (1)

P. Polynkin, B. Pasenhow, N. Driscoll, M. Scheller, E. M. Wright, J. V. Moloney, Phys. Rev. A 86, 043410 (2012).
[Crossref]

Phys. Rev. E (2)

Z. Sun, J. Chen, W. Rudolph, Phys. Rev. E 83, 046408 (2011).
[Crossref]

S. Tzortzakis, B. Prade, M. Franco, A. Mysyrowicz, S. Hüller, P. Mora, Phys. Rev. E 64057401 (2001).
[Crossref]

Rep. Prog. Phys. (1)

L. Berge, S. Skupin, R. Nuter, J. Kasparian, J.-P. Wolf, Rep. Prog. Phys. 70, 1633 (2007).
[Crossref]

Other (1)

Y. P. Raizer, Gas Discharge Physics (Springer, 1997).

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Figures (4)

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Schematic of the experimental setup. Femtosecond and nanosecond laser beams are temporally and spatially overlapped and focused by a conical lens. Two ball electrodes are placed close to the beam axis. The electrical breakdown voltage is measured for different interelectrode separations and under various illumination conditions.

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Threshold breakdown voltage versus interelectrode separation for the case of unguided breakdown. The threshold breakdown field (which is the slope of this curve) decreases as the distance between the electrodes is increased, as a result of the transition from the Townsend to the streamer breakdown mechanism. Data points are shown with circles; the line is a polynomial fit.

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Threshold breakdown voltage versus interelectrode separation, for the cases of electrical breakdown channeled by the femtosecond laser filament alone and by the filament heated by an auxiliary nanosecond laser pulse, with two different values of peak laser fluence. Optical heating of the filament plasma causes significant reduction of the breakdown threshold electric field.

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Top: breakdown threshold electric field versus peak fluence of the nanosecond heater pulse in the interaction zone. The energy of the femtosecond igniter pulse is fixed at 15 mJ. The line is a polynomial fit to the data points. Bottom: corresponding plasma density in the channel on an arbitrary unit scale. The onset of optically driven avalanche ionization at the peak heater fluence of about 1kJ/cm2 is evident. Even below the threshold for an optical avalanche (the area to the left of the vertical dashed line), heating of the plasma channel by the nanosecond laser pulse results in significant reduction of the breakdown threshold electric field relative to the unguided case.

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