Influence of Nanoparticles and Metal Vapors on the Color of Laboratory and Atmospheric Discharges

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2022 Feb 15;12(4):652. doi: 10.3390/nano12040652.


Currently, electrical discharges occurring at altitudes of tens to hundreds of kilometers from the Earth's surface attract considerable attention from researchers from all over the world. A significant number of (nano)particles coming from outer space burn up at these altitudes. As a result, vapors of various substances, including metals, are formed at different altitudes. This paper deals with the influence of vapors and particles released from metal electrodes on the color and shape of pulse-periodic discharge in air, nitrogen, argon, and hydrogen. It presents the results of experimental studies. The discharge was implemented under an inhomogeneous electric field and was accompanied by the generation of runaway electrons and the formation of mini-jets. It was established that regardless of the voltage pulse polarity, the electrode material significantly affects the color of spherical- and cylindrical-shaped mini jets formed when bright spots appear on electrodes. Similar jets are observed when the discharge is transformed into a spark. It was shown that the color of the plasma of mini-jets is similar to that of atmospheric discharges (red sprites, blue jets, and ghosts) at altitudes of dozens of kilometers and differs from the color of plasma of pulsed diffuse discharges in air and nitrogen at the same pressure. It was revealed that to observe the red, blue and green mini-jets, it is necessary to use aluminum, iron, and copper electrodes, respectively.

Keywords: blue jets; diffuse discharge; ghosts; mini-jets; red sprites; spark discharge.