Antenna induced hot restrike of a ceramic metal halide lamp recorded by high-speed photography

Patrick Hermanns, Thomas Höbing, Andre Bergner, Cornelia Ruhrmann, Peter Awakowicz, Jürgen Mentel

JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS Volume: 119 Issue: 11 Article Number: 113304 DOI: 10.1063/1.4943621 Published: MAR 21 2016


The hot restrike is one of the biggest challenges in operating ceramic metal halide lamps with mercury as buffer gas. Compared to a cold lamp, the pressure within a ceramic burner is two orders of magnitude higher during steady state operation due to the high temperature of the ceramic tube and the resulting high mercury vapour pressure. Room temperature conditions are achieved after 300 s of cooling down in a commercial burner, enclosed in an evacuated outer bulb. At the beginning of the cooling down, ignition voltage rises up to more than 14 kV. A significant reduction of the hot-restrike voltage can be achieved by using a so called active antenna. It is realized by a conductive sleeve surrounding the burner at the capillary of the upper electrode. The antenna is connected to the lower electrode of the lamp, so that its potential is extended to the vicinity of the upper electrode. An increased electric field in front of the upper electrode is induced, when an ignition pulse is applied to the lamp electrodes. A symmetrically shaped ignition pulse is applied with an amplitude, which is just sufficient to re-ignite the hot lamp. The re-ignition, 60 s after switching off the lamp, when the mercury pressure starts to be saturated, is recorded for both polarities of the ignition pulse with a high-speed camera, which records four pictures within the symmetrically shaped ignition pulse with exposure times of 100 ns and throws of 100 ns. The pictures show that the high electric field and its temporal variation establish a local dielectric barrier discharge in front of the upper electrode inside the burner, which covers the inner wall of the burner with a surface charge. It forms a starting point of streamers, which may induce the lamp ignition predominantly within the second half cycle of the ignition pulse. It is found out that an active antenna is more effective when the starting point of the surface streamer in front of the sleeve is a negative surface charge on the inner tube wall. The high-speed photos show that the ignition process is very similar in lamps with Hg or Xe as buffer gas. (C) 2016 AIP Publishing LLC.