Characteristics of electron beam formation in a hollow cathode triggered fast capillary discharge

The fast pulsed capillary discharge has been shown to be an efficient source of radiation in the XUV range. Two main conditions are required to operate a pulsed capillary discharge as a fast XUV radiation source. First, initial formation of an on-axis conducting plasma column detached from the capillary wall, and second, application of a high rate of current rise to an inductive load, to heat the capillary plasma. To satisfy these requirements we have developed a pulsed capillary discharge device which combines the features of a transient hollow cathode discharge (THCD) with the inherent characteristics of the capillary discharge, to obtain XUV radiation with ns rise time. The discharge operates in the nanosecond regime with current in the kA region into a millimeter diameter capillary. The initial breakdown process is controlled by the physics of the THCD, with hollow cathode emitted electron beams, which assist the formation of an on-axis ionization channel. In this paper we present a theoretical model of breakdown formation in the capillary which is compared with experimental measurements of ionization growth. The properties of the electron beams are quantified and their influence on the subsequent breakdown formation is considered through time-resolved measurements on the plasma emission properties and VUV spectroscopy.