Streamer discharges in water, which are a pre-breakdown phenomenon caused by underwater discharge, have gained attention because of the development of plasma-based technologies for water purification and medical treatment. In this study, a single-shot pulsed negative high voltage of -18 to -21 kV with a rise time of 100 ns was applied to a needle electrode in ultrapure water, and streamers were continuously imaged using an optical system combining a high-speed video camera, a streak camera, and an ultra-high-speed camera with a microscope lens. These observations were synchronized with the applied voltage and the discharge current to investigate the effect of the discharge on streamer propagation. Negative streamers propagated with a velocity of 820 ± 50 m/s in the presence of pulsed currents, and 100 ± 20 m/s when pulsed currents were absent. The streak camera detected light emission when the pulsed currents appeared, and it was also observed that 1480 m/s pressure waves were generated during streamer propagation. Furthermore, we developed a simple new method of imaging weak density changes similar to those detected using the Schlieren method or Mach-Zehnder interferometer. This method simply involves inserting a pair of polarizing plates on the optical axis, so that the pressure waves can also be imaged in two-dimensional photographs. Our results indicated that the pressure waves were generated from the propagating streamer head when the pulsed currents appeared in the waveform. Analysis of temporal resolution with nano-second order clarified that the branching phenomenon occurred at different times resulting in the branching streamer propagation with different directions.
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