Observation of plasma array dynamics in 110 GHz millimeter-wave air breakdown

Cook, Alan M.; Hummelt, Jason S.; Shapiro, Michael A.; Temkin, Richard J.
October 2011
Physics of Plasmas;Oct2011, Vol. 18 Issue 10, p100704
Academic Journal
We present dynamical measurements of self-organizing arrays of plasma structures in air induced by a 110 GHz millimeter-wave beam with linear or circular polarization. The formation of the individual plasmas and the growth of the array pattern are studied using a fast-gated (5-10 ns) intensified camera. We measure the time-dependent speed at which the array pattern propagates in discrete steps toward the millimeter-wave source, observing a peak speed greater than 100 km/s. We observe the expansion of an initially spherical plasma into a disk or an elongated filament, depending on the polarization of the incident beam. The results show good agreement with one-dimensional ionization-diffusion theory and two-dimensional simulations.


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