Laser spark induced fluid mechanics

When a high energy laser is focused to a point it can ionize the air molecules, generating a suspended plasma spark. The sudden release of energy produces a structured, highly-rotational fluid flow.






Using Schlieren based measurements the Aero-Optics group is able to visualize the density field, which can then be analyzed using optical flow techniques to find the velocity.


By changing the spatial distribution of the laser pulse, the shape of the suspended plasma can be changed, and the fluid flow can be controlled.