L. P. Babich “High-Energy Phenomena in Electric Discharges in Dense Gases”

This monograph is the most comprehensive text ever written on the subject of runaway electrons in dense (atmospheric pressure) gases. At certain high-field conditions, caused by large applied fields or space charge accumulation, and greatly exceeding the self-breakdown value, electrons can acquire more energy along one free path than is necessary to compensate for losses due to elastic and inelastic collisions with neutral atoms or molecules. This phenomenon is an important feature in the early stages of electric breakdown of dense gases leading to the ignition of gas discharges.

The book was written by an expert in this field, by Professor Leonid P. Babich, who, starting with publications in the early 1970s, has made several important contributions to the subject. Also his Ph.D. dissertation (1973) and his Dr. Sc. Thesis, completed in 1985, were devoted to the subject. The book covers the history of the concept of runaway electrons, experimental evidence in atmospheric discharges and in laboratory plasmas, and devotes ample space to the discussion of the physical assumptions involved in different approaches and to the theoretical treatment of runaway electrons in dense gases. The role of photons for releasing secondary electrons from the cathode or leading to volume ionization in the gas in the different models is discussed. One of the most important features of this book is the extensive coverage and critical evaluation of a very large number of pertinent scientific publications, including many contributions from the former Soviet Union, many of which appeared only in Russian. No doubt, this book will soon become the standard reference source for investigations on electrical breakdown of high-pressure gases.

Ulrich Kogelschatz

December 23, 2002

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