Simulation of intense microwave pulse propagation in air breakdown environment

Spencer Kuo, Y. S. Zhang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


An experiment is conducted to examine the tail erosion phenomenon which occurs to an intense microwave pulse propagating in air breakdown environment. In the experiment, a 1 MW microwave pulse (1.1μs) is transmitted through a large plexiglas chamber filled with dry air at about 1 approximately 2 torr pressure. Two different degrees of tail erosion caused by two different mechanisms are identified. This experimental effort leads to the understanding of the fundamental behavior of tail erosion and provides a data base for validating the theoretical model. A theoretical model based on two coupled partial differential equations is established to describe the propagation of an intense microwave pulse in air breakdown environment. One is derived from the Poynting theorem, and the other one is the rate equation of electron density. A semi-empirical formula of the ionization frequency is adopted for this model. A transformation of these two equations to local time frame of reference is introduced so that they can be solved numerically with considerably reduced computation time. This model is tested by using it to perform the computer simulation of the experiment. The numerical results are shown to agree well with the experimental results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
EditorsHoward E. Brandt
PublisherPubl by Int Soc for Optical Engineering
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 1991
EventIntense Microwave and Particle Beams II - Los Angeles, CA, USA
Duration: Jan 21 1991Jan 24 1991


OtherIntense Microwave and Particle Beams II
CityLos Angeles, CA, USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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