Electrical breakdown of short non-uniform air gaps

M. G. Hogg, I. V. Timoshkin, S. J. Macgregor, M. P. Wilson, M. J. Given, T. Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

3 Citations (Scopus)
3518 Downloads (Pure)


The breakdown voltage of air in highly divergent electric fields in not very short gaps (a few mm and above) is typically higher for negative energisation compared to positive energisation. Volumetric negative space charge, created by attachment of electrons to electronegative molecules in the case of negative energisation, reduces the field in the vicinity of the sharp cathode, resulting in higher breakdown voltages. This paper investigates self-breakdown voltages in short, mm and sub-mm gaps formed by point and plane electrodes and filled with atmospheric air at pressures 0.5-3.5 atm (abs). It is expected that space charge effects will change self-breakdown voltages for positive and negative energisation modes resulting in their different functional behaviour as compared with larger inter-electrode gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigest of Technical Papers-IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9781467351676
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2013
Event2013 19th IEEE Pulsed Power Conference, PPC 2013 - San Francisco, CA, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Jun 201321 Jun 2013


Conference2013 19th IEEE Pulsed Power Conference, PPC 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CitySan Francisco, CA


  • atmospheric air
  • electrical breakdown
  • electronegative molecules
  • interelectrode gaps
  • negative space charge
  • non-uniform
  • self-breakdown voltages
  • space charge effects


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