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Measurements of microwave-induced electrical breakdown at 2.45 GHz in Ar, Kr, and Xe have been made in a tunable microwave cavity. The influence of UV illumination on gas breakdown at pressures up to 300 torr, and data on fiber initiator-induced breakdown above atmospheric pressure are presented. A marked decrease in the statistical spread in breakdown was observed with UV illumination, but the maximum pressures at which breakdown occurred with available microwave power, with and without UV illumination, were the same. To initiate breakdown in gases above 1 atm, a conducting fiber was used to enhance the applied macroscopic electric field at the fiber tip. Using 8-μm diameter SiC fibers coated with 0.2-μm-thick Pt, breakdown was obtained with pulses as short as 0.25 ms in the pressure range 1-3 atm for Ar, Kr, and Xe. The required microwave electric field at 2280 torr with one fiber was less than that at 200 torr without a fiber. The increase of the breakdown field with pressure was much slower than linear. The effect of fiber length, diameter, orientation, and conductivity, and of the number of fibers, on the required breakdown electric field, and fiber initiation in Cl2 mixture gases, were also investigated.
Date of Publication: Feb 2003