Positive and negative streamers are studied in ambient air at 1 bar; they emerge from a needle electrode placed 40mm above a planar electrode. The amplitudes of the applied voltage pulses range from 5 to 96 kV; most pulses have rise times of 30 ns or shorter. Diameters, velocities and energies of the streamers are measured. Two regimes are identified; a low voltage regime where only positive streamers appear and a high voltage regime where both positive and negative streamers exist. Below 5 kV, no streamers emerge. In the range from 5 to 40 kV, positive streamers form, while the negative discharges only form a glowing cloud at the electrode tip, but no streamers. For 5–20 kV, diameters and velocities of the positive streamers have the minimal values of d = 0.2mm and v ≈ 10^5 ms^(−1). For 20–40 kV, their diameters increase by a factor of 6 while the voltage increases only by a factor of 2. Above the transition value of 40 kV, streamers of both polarities form; they strongly resemble each other, though the positive ones propagate further; their diameters continue to increase with applied voltage. For 96 kV, positive streamers attain diameters of 3mm and velocities of 4 × 10^6 ms^(−1); negative streamers are about 20% slower and thinner. An empirical fit formula for the relation between velocity v and diameter d is v = 0.5d^2 mm^(−1) ns^(−1) for both polarities. Streamers of both polarities dissipate energies of the order of several millijoules per streamer while crossing the gap.

Additional Metadata
THEME Energy (theme 4)
Publisher Institute of Physics
Journal Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Briels, T.M.P, Kos, J, Winands, G.J.J, van Veldhuizen, E.M, & Ebert, U. (2008). Positive and negative streamers in ambient air: measuring diameter, velocity and dissipated energy. Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 41.