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The influence of contact surface microstructure on vacuum arc stability and voltage

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2 Author(s)
Fu, Y.H. ; Fac. of Electr. Eng., Eindhoven Univ. of Technol., Netherlands ; Smeets, R.P.P.

The authors present the results of DC vacuum arc lifetime and voltage measurements for contacts with different surface microstructures. This was realized by treating the contact surface with emery paper of varying roughness. The contact surface microstructure was found to have a large effect on the DC arc lifetime (several tens of times difference at the most) and arc voltage (30% difference at the most). The mechanism of the surface microstructure effect on DC arc stability was analyzed and is explained preliminarily. The rougher the contact surface is, the longer the arc lifetime and the more stable. The arc itself has a tendency to condition the surface in a way that is unfavorable for a sustained arc lifetime. The crater size for a rough surface is smaller than for a smooth one. The rougher the contact is, the lower the arc voltage (both DC and HF components). The arc erosion has a tendency to increase the arc voltage. It is probable that type I cathode spots (fast motion, small crater size) correspond not only to the surface contamination, but also to the surface roughness

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 5 )