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A Review of Anode Phenomena in Vacuum Arcs

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1 Author(s)

This paper discusses arc modes at the anode, anode temperature measurments, anode ions, transitions of the arc into various modes (principally the anode-spot mode), and theoretical explanations of anode phenomena. A vacuum arc can exhibit five anode discharge modes: 1) a low-current mode in which the anode is basically passive, acting only as a collector of particles emitted from the cathode; 2) a second low-current mode that can occur if the electrode material is readily sputtered (a flux of sputtered atoms will be emitted by the anode); 3) a footpoint mode, characterized by the appearance of one or more luminous spots on the anode (footpoints are much cooler than the true anode spots present in the last two modes); 4) an anode-spot mode in which one large or several small anode spots are present (such spots are very luminous, have a temperature near the atmospheric boiling point of the anode material, and are a copious source of vapor and ions); and 5) an intense-arc mode where an anode spot is present, but accompanied by severe cathode erosion. The arc voltage is relatively low and quiet in the two low-current modes and the intense-arc mode. It is usually high and noisy in the footpoint mode, and it can be either in the anode-spot mode. Anode erosion is low, indeed negative, in the two low-current modes, and it is low to moderate in the footpoint mode. Severe anode erosion occurs in both the anode-spot and intense-arc modes.

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 5 )