Wagenaars, E.; Bowden, M. D. and Kroesen, G. M. W.
Measurements of electric-field strengths in ionization fronts during breakdown.
Physical Review Letters, 98(7) 075002-1-075002-4.
Using laser-induced fluorescence-dip Stark spectroscopy, we performed time-resolved, direct measurements of electric-field strengths during the breakdown phase of a low-pressure, pulsed discharge in xenon. With this experimental technique we could for the first time quantitatively measure the time evolution of the driving force of the plasma breakdown process: the electric field. Moving ionization fronts were measured with submicrosecond resolution. These ionization fronts were sustained by a spatially narrow, rapidly moving region of strong electric field.
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