High voltage subnanosecond breakdown

John Mankowski, James Dickens, Magne Kristiansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Present-day ultra-wideband radiation sources produce Megavolt pulses at hundreds of picosecond (ps) risetimes. Empirical data on the breakdown characteristics for dielectric media at these short time lengths and high voltages are either extremely limited or nonexistent. In support of the design of these ultra-wideband sources, we are investigating the breakdown characteristics, at these voltages and time lengths, of several liquids and high-pressure gases. These include air, N2, H2, SF6, and transformer oil. Gap voltages attained were over 700 kV and gas pressures were over 150 atm (15 MPa). Breakdown times achieved were on the order of 600 ps. Electric field strengths observed for given breakdown times were higher than predicted by other investigators. An empirical fit is presented for the data obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-881
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Capacitive divider
  • Gas breakdown
  • Marx bank
  • Nanosecond breakdown
  • Point-plane geometry
  • Subnanosecond breakdown
  • Transformer oil breakdown
  • Ultra-wideband


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