An air-gap flash is a photographic light source capable of producing sub-microsecond light flashes, allowing for (ultra) high-speed photography. This is achieved by a high-voltage (20 kV typically) electric discharge between two electrodes over the surface of a quartz (or glass) tube. The distance between the electrodes is such that a spontaneous discharge does not occur. To start the discharge a high-voltage pulse (70 kV for example) is applied on an electrode inside the quartz tube.
The flash can be triggered electronically by being synchronised with an electronic detection device such as a microphone or an interrupted laser beam in order to illuminate a fast event. A sub-microsecond flash is fast enough to photographically capture a supersonic bullet in flight without noticeable motion blur.