The resistance in flashtubes is not constant, but quickly drops as current density increases. In 1965, John H. Goncz showed that the plasma resistivity in flashtubes is inversely proportional to the square root of current density. As the arc develops, the lamp experiences a period of negative resistance, causing both the resistance and voltage to decrease as the current increases.

As flash duration decreases, the electrical energy becomes concentrated into shorter pulses, so the current density will increase. Compensating for this usually requires lowering the capacitance as pulse duration decreases, and then raising web series the voltage proportionately in order to maintain a high enough energy-level. However, as pulse duration decreases, so does the “explosion energy” rating of the lamp, so the energy level must also be decreased to avoid destroying the lamp.

The streamers propagate via capacitance along the glass at a speed of 1 centimeter in 60 nanoseconds (170 km/s). Series triggering is more common in high powered, water-cooled flashtubes, such as those found in lasers. The high-voltage leads of the trigger-transformer are connected to the flashtube in series, , so that the flash travels through both the transformer and the lamp.

A better alternative is a cerium-doped quartz; it does not suffer from solarization and has higher efficiency, as part of the absorbed ultraviolet is reradiated as visible via fluorescence. Conversely, when ultraviolet is called for, a synthetic quartz is used as the envelope; it is the most expensive of the materials, but it is not susceptible to solarization and its cutoff is at 160 nm. One molecule important to human vision is called 11-c is-retinal. The molecule changes conformation when struck with light of sufficient energy (163 kJ/mol or greater). If solar radiation is 1000 W/m2, how many photons strike the leaf every second? Assume three significant figures and an average wavelength of 504 nm for solar radiation.

Flashtubes operate at high voltages, with currents high enough to be deadly. Under certain conditions, shocks as low as 1 joule have been reported to be lethal. The energy stored in a capacitor can remain surprisingly long after power has been disconnected.