, Volume 82, Issue 4, pp 561-566
Date: 17 Dec 2005

Influence of negative leader propagation on the triggering and guiding of high voltage discharges by laser filaments

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The triggering and guiding of negative discharges using filaments induced by a femtosecond-terawatt laser pulse have been studied in sphere-plane gaps up to 4.5 meters. Fast-frame camera pictures allow the evaluation of the influence of the negative leader propagation on the triggering and guiding process. We show that the plasma channel can either trigger a space-leader discharge or act as a guiding path for the negative leader head. For the latter case the results suggest a linear dependence of the guided lengths up to 2.4 m, while the formation of a space-leader reduces this guided length by up to 50%. This effect is explained by the limited plasma lifetime of the filament that is measured to be about 1 μs.