Electrical Properties of Reversed-Polarity Ball Plasmoid Discharges

Scott E. Dubowsky, Amber N. Rose, Nick G. Glumac, Benjamin McCall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ball plasmoid discharges are a unique type of atmospheric-pressure plasma discharge with a lifetime on the order of a hundred milliseconds without attachment to a power source. These discharges are generated by a moderate current pulse over the surface of an aqueous electrolyte, and some consider the spherical plasmoid that results to bear some resemblance to ball lightning. This article presents the first analysis of the electrical properties of ball plasmoid discharges in a reversed-polarity configuration, i.e., with the central electrode serving as the anode rather than as the cathode. These experiments demonstrate that ball plasmoids can indeed be generated with either electrode polarity with similar observable properties. These results are contrary to what has previously been discussed in the literature and raise additional questions regarding formation mechanisms of ball plasmoids. Analysis of images and electrical measurements collected at various discharge energies show that two distinct processes occur during discharges with our circuitry and in this reversed-polarity configuration: the formation of spark channels between the anode and electrolyte, and the generation of streamers and a jet from the surface of the anode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-102
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • ball plasmoids
  • atmospheric-pressure plasma
  • electrical properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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