Laser and Particle Beams

Research Article

Repetitive nanosecond-pulse discharge in a highly nonuniform electric field in atmospheric air: X-ray emission and runaway electron generation

Tao Shaoa1a3 c1, Victor F. Tarasenkoa2, Cheng Zhanga1a3, Evgeni KH. Bakshta2, Ping Yana1a3 and Yuliya V. Shut'Koa2

a1 Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

a2 Institute of High Current Electronics, Russian Academy of Science, Tomsk, Russia

a3 Key Laboratory of Power Electronics and Electric Drive, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China


Repetitive nanosecond-pulse discharge with a highly inhomogeneous electric field was investigated in air at atmospheric pressure. Three repetitive nanosecond generators were used, and the rise times of the voltage pulses were 15, 1, and 0.2 ns, respectively. Under different experimental conditions, X-rays and runaway electron beams were directly measured using various setups. The variables affecting X-rays and runaway electrons, including gap distance, pulse repetition frequency, anode geometry, and material, were investigated. It was shown that it was significantly easier to record the X-rays than the runaway electrons in the repetitive nanosecond-pulse discharge. It was confirmed that a volume diffuse discharge was attributed to the generation of runaway electrons and the corresponding X-rays.

(Received December 11 2011)

(Accepted March 14 2012)


  • Air discharge;
  • Diffuse discharge;
  • Inhomogeneous electric field;
  • Nanosecond pulse;
  • Runaway electrons;
  • X-rays


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Tao Shao, Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 2703, 100190 Beijing, China. E-mail: