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Twenty-five years of progress in vacuum arc research and utilization

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3 Author(s)
Boxman, R.L. ; Electr. Discharge & Plasma Lab., Tel Aviv Univ., Israel ; Goldsmith, S. ; Greenwood, A.

Progress in understanding and applying vacuum arcs is reviewed. Laser diagnostics have demonstrated the existence of micron-sized regions in the cathode spot plasma having electron densities exceeding 1026 m-3. The expanding plasma produces a highly ionized jet whose ions typically have charge states of 1-3 and energies of 50-150 eV. Gas dynamic and explosive emission models have been formulated to explain cathode spot operation. In cases where the arc is constricted at the anode, forming an anode spot, or the anode is thermally isolated, forming a hot anode vacuum arc, material emitted from the anode may dominate the interelectrode plasma. Evaporation from liquid droplets may also provide a substantial component of the plasma, and the presence of these droplets can have deleterious consequences in applications. The vacuum arc has been extensively utilized as a plasma source, particularly for the deposition of protective coatings and thin films, and as a switching medium in electrical distribution circuit breakers

Published in:

Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 6 )

Date of Publication:

Dec 1997

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