Vacuum discharge instability at laser initiation of a cathode spot

Research paper by Yu. V. Korobkin, I. V. Romanov, A. A. Rupasov, A. S. Shikanov

Indexed on: 01 Sep '05Published on: 01 Sep '05Published in: Technical Physics


The dynamics of fast (a current rise time of ≤1011 A/s) laser-induced vacuum discharges with moderate amplitudes of the current (≤10 kA) and voltage (≤20 kV), as well as medium storage energy (20 J), is studied. It is shown experimentally that the initial conditions specified by the energy and duration of laser radiation are a decisive factor governing the discharge dynamics. Two types of beam-plasma instabilities separated in space and time are discovered, and their occurrence conditions are analyzed. The first type of instability, observed early in the discharge, is associated with pinch structures at the front of the cathode jet expanding into a vacuum. The second type arises either at the peak or at the trailing edge of the current pulse and is accompanied by generation of hard (with an energy of ≥100 keV) bremsstrahlung from the anode region. The increase of the hard component energy over the current source potential is attributed to breaking due to plasma erosion.