Vacuum breakdown due to particulate matter
Kunka, Galen Dean
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Microparticles have been hypothesized to initiate breakdown of high voltage vacuum gaps. Although the effect of such particles has been verified for DC and pulsed voltages, the initiation mechanism is yet to be understood. In a nongravitational environment, such as space, microparticles could linger in the interelectrode space, possibly affecting the breakdown voltage more than that experienced on earth. It is the purpose of this research to determine the effect that lingering microparticles may have on the breakdown voltage of a vacuum gap. The resulting effects of both dielectric and conducting particles has been studied, including the lowering of the breakdown voltage and effects on the voltage breakdown distribution function (widening, skewing, etc.).