Electric discharges initiated along surfaces have been used for numerous applications, including high speed photography, fast switching, and incoherent laser pumping/initiation.1 In a surface discharge (see schematic) breakdown is initiated by voltages above some threshold. The surface allows for reduced breakdown voltage due to capacitive coupling with the current return. Due to the surface, the resulting plasma is a ribbon-shaped half-plane radiator which is advantageous for depositing energy in an adjacent volume. The spectral content of the radiation depends on gas type and pressure and/or substrate material. The energy loading and temporal waveform depend on the discharge circuit as well as the surface discharge equivalent circuit element and its geometrical arrangement. Advantages of surface discharges over other incoherent sources such as flashlamps include greater brightness, shorter pulse operation, more efficient coupling to a laser medium, simplicity, and overall efficiency.

© 1984 Optical Society of America

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