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Breakdown of Air at Microwave Frequencies

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2 Author(s)
Gould, Lawrence ; Microwave Associates, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts ; Roberts, Louis W.

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A theory for uniform field breakdown in air at microwave frequencies is developed and applied with success to predicting values of breakdown over a wide range of experimental conditions. Three distinct types of breakdown are treated; c.w. (continuous wave) breakdown, single pulse breakdown, and multipulse breakdown. The conditions for breakdown are determined from a solution of the electron continuity equation for an average electron, in which electron ionization, attachment, and diffusion are the dominant mechanisms. Modulation of the electron average energy at twice the frequency of the applied field becomes important at either high pressure or low frequency and modifies the values of the breakdown field. The breakdown field strengths are shown to be determined from a single curve for each type of breakdown power, either c.w. or pulsed. These theoretical curves are in accordance with the experimental results, thus verifying the assumption and the values of the coefficients used in the theory.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 10 )