Dielectric surface flashover at atmospheric conditions with unipolar pulsed voltage excitation

Kim Morales, John Krile, Andreas Neuber, Hermann Krompholz

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18 Scopus citations


Dielectric surface flashover along insulators in atmospheric conditions has only been empirically characterized over the years. The underlying physics involved in atmospheric flashover has yet to be understood, where parameters such as background gas, humidity, surface roughness, and temporal characteristics of the applied voltage play a role. Understanding the fundamental physical mechanisms and the extent to which these parameters influence the discharge behavior is vital to characterizing and modeling surface flashover for various structures and conditions. A solid state high voltage puiser with an adjustable pulse width of ∼500 ns at FWHM and amplitudes in excess of 30 kV was developed to replicate the non-standard temporal shape of the transient voltage observed inside a rebar enforced building during a lightning strike. Based on experimental results, the phenomenology of pulsed unipolar surface flashover is discussed, with the emphasis on the influence of external parameters (applied voltage pulse shape/risetime, environment, UV illumination, humidity, etc.) on spatial and temporal discharge channel behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-782
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Atmospheric
  • Dielectric materials
  • Electrical breakdown
  • Humidity
  • Surface flashover
  • Ultraviolet radiation effects


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