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In-situ insulator surface charge measurements in dielectric bridged vacuum gaps using an electrostatic probe

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2 Author(s)
Jaitly, N.C. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., South Carolina Univ., Columbia, SC, USA ; Sudarshan, T.S.

Surface charge measurements on alumina and polymer insulators were carried out after stressing them with DC voltages in a high vacuum. The order of magnitude of surface charge density was found to be the same for materials with supposedly widely varying secondary-emission yields. Surface coatings on alumina insulators reduced charge accumulation because of increased surface conductivity and/or reduced secondary-emission yield, which led to significant improvement in voltage hold-off for alumina ceramics. Removing the cathode triple junction from the main body of the cylindrical insulator, reducing the X-ray activity in the gap, or relieving the stress at the critical junction did not significantly alter the surface charge characteristics of cylindrical insulators. Wet hydrogen firing of plain alumina reduced the voltage hold-off by 25% without altering the surface charge density. It is postulated that the charging of insulators in bridged vacuum gaps with DC stresses is due to internal secondary emission produced by ionization of the lattice in the surface layer of the insulating material, by primary electrons injected at the cathode triple junction. This mechanism of charge production differs from the current models where charging is believed to occur due to electrons hopping along the surface/vacuum interface

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Electrical Insulation, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 2 )