Model predictions for atmospheric air breakdown by radio-frequency excitation in large gaps
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The behavior of the breakdown electric field versus frequency (DC to 100 MHz) for different gap lengths has been studied numerically at atmospheric pressure. Unlike previous reports, the focus here is on much larger gap lengths in the 1–5 cm range. A numerical analysis, with transport coefficients obtained from Monte Carlo calculations, is used to ascertain the electric field thresholds at which the growth and extinction of the electron population over time are balanced. Our analysis is indicative of a U-shaped frequency dependence, lower breakdown fields with increasing gap lengths, and trends qualitatively similar to the frequency-dependent field behavior for microgaps. The low frequency value of ∼34 kV/cm for a 1 cm gap approaches the reported DC Paschen limit.