Propagation and branching process of negative streamers in water

Ryo Kumagai, Seiji Kanazawa, Kiyonobu Ohtani, Atsuki Komiya, Toshiro Kaneko, Tomoki Nakajima, Takehiko Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Streamer discharges in water, which are a pre-breakdown phenomenon caused by underwater discharge, have gained attention because of the development of plasma-based technologies for water purification and medical treatment. In this study, a single-shot pulsed negative high voltage of -18 to -21 kV with a rise time of 100 ns was applied to a needle electrode in ultrapure water, and streamers were continuously imaged using an optical system combining a high-speed video camera, a streak camera, and an ultra-high-speed camera with a microscope lens. These observations were synchronized with the applied voltage and the discharge current to investigate the effect of the discharge on streamer propagation. Negative streamers propagated with a velocity of 820 ± 50 m/s in the presence of pulsed currents, and 100 ± 20 m/s when pulsed currents were absent. The streak camera detected light emission when the pulsed currents appeared, and it was also observed that 1480 m/s pressure waves were generated during streamer propagation. Furthermore, we developed a simple new method of imaging weak density changes similar to those detected using the Schlieren method or Mach-Zehnder interferometer. This method simply involves inserting a pair of polarizing plates on the optical axis, so that the pressure waves can also be imaged in two-dimensional photographs. Our results indicated that the pressure waves were generated from the propagating streamer head when the pulsed currents appeared in the waveform. Analysis of temporal resolution with nano-second order clarified that the branching phenomenon occurred at different times resulting in the branching streamer propagation with different directions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number163301
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 28


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