Propagation and structure of planar streamer fronts

  • Ebert U
  • Saarloos W
  • Caroli C
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Streamers often constitute the first stage of dielectric breakdown in strong electric fields: a nonlinear ionization wave transforms a non-ionized medium into a weakly ionized nonequilibrium plasma. New understanding of this old phenomenon can be gained through modern concepts of (interfacial) pattern formation. As a first step towards an effective interface description, we determine the front width, solve the selection problem for planar fronts and calculate their properties. Our results are in good agreement with many features of recent three-dimensional numerical simulations. In the present long paper, you find the physics of the model and the interfacial approach further explained. As a first ingredient of this approach, we here analyze planar fronts, their profile and velocity. We encounter a selection problem, recall some knowledge about such problems and apply it to planar streamer fronts. We make analytical predictions on the selected front profile and velocity and confirm them numerically. (abbreviated abstract)

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  • Ute EbertCentrum Wiskunde & Informatica

  • Wim van Saarloos

  • Christiane Caroli

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