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Dielectric surface flashover in vacuum at 100 K

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5 Author(s)
Neuber, A. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng. & Phys., Texas Tech. Univ., Lubbock, TX, USA ; Butcher, M. ; Hatfield, L.L. ; Kristiansen, M.
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Cryogenic components in high power electrical systems and in power electronics gain more and more importance. The behavior of insulators for cryogenic conditions, however, is virtually unknown. In a fast coaxial setup, dielectric test sample and electrodes in vacuum are cooled to <100 K and flashover is characterized using fast electrical and optical diagnostics. Three consecutive development stages for flashover in self-breakdown mode with a gap distance of 0.5 cm can be distinguished: (1) a fast current rise to mA amplitudes within ~2 ns, probably associated with field emission, followed by, (2) a slow current rise to ~5 to 10 A amplitude with duration of 40 ns to 1 μs, associated with secondary emission avalanche saturation, and (3) a transition to a rapid gaseous ionization above the sample caused by electron induced outgassing, leading to impedance-limited current amplitudes of ⩽300 A. Phase (1) shows a higher final current at lower temperature, which is probably due to a higher initial velocity of the secondary electrons, the duration of phase (2) is a decreasing function of breakdown voltage and only slightly dependent on temperature, which points to a weak temperature dependence of the outgassing process. Flashover potentials show a slight increase at lower temperature

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Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 4 )