Optically controlled diffuse discharges for switching applications
Hutcheson, George Zohn
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Diffuse discharges containing electronegative gases, at present, are the only means capable of fast, repetitive, long-life operation as opening switches. Optical control of diffuse discharge switches has been proposed as both a means of sustaining and of enhancing the performance of such switches. Processes considered in this dissertation are photo ionization. photo detachment. and several approaches to optically enhanced attachment. Ultraviolet (UV) ionization has been used for several years now as a means of preionizing self-sustained diffuse discharges and, recently, has been used as a sustainment mechanism for diffuse discharge opening switches. Time-resolved measurements of the optical emission of a spark array, similar to those used for preionization or sustainment of diffuse discharges, are presented. Results of experiments in atmospheric pressure diffuse discharges containing admixtures of attachers, sustained and initiated by such a spark array, are also presented. Photo detachment is considered as a mechanism which could decrease switch losses and decrease switch closure time by counteracting dissociative attachment. Experimental results are presented demonstrating optically increased current densities, of as much as 900%, in externally sustained and externally initiated, atmospheric pressure, diffuse discharges containing 0^. This process proceeds through photodetachment of 0 by 590 nm light generated by a dye laser (0 +hu -• 0+e). Optically enhanced attachment through the generation of vibrationally excited attachers appears particularly attractive as a means to decrease turn-off or opening times for diffuse discharge switches. For some molecules attachment cross-sections can be increased by orders of magnitude by vibrational excitation. The influence of this effect on the resistivity of a discharge through IR pumping of NH.;^ and CpH^aF by a low power CO^ laser in continuous low pressure discharges is presented. UV enhanced attachment is also shown in gases containing molecules such as C^HpF^. CpHpClp, and CpH-Cl where UV photo dissociation produced vibrationally excited, strongly attaching, molecules (e.g.. C2H2F2+hu-C2H2+HF(v>1)).