Optical diagnostics of liquid nitrogen volume pre-breakdown events

M. Butcher, A. Neuber, H. Krompholz, J. Dickens

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

13 Scopus citations


An increased need for compact pulsed power systems requiring new switching technologies combined with the benefits of cryogenic properties, such as higher energy density and miniaturization, has lead to increased interest in liquid nitrogen as a switching medium. High hold off voltage, low dielectric constant, and low environmental impact are further advantages of liquid nitrogen. Characterization of breakdown is investigated using high-speed (temporal resolution < 1 ns) optical and electrical diagnostics in a coaxial system with 52 Ω impedance. Experiments are done in self-breakdown mode in super-cooled liquid nitrogen with a temperature near 70 K. Discharge current and voltage are determined using transmission line type current sensors and capacitive voltage dividers. Discharge luminosity is measured with photomultiplier tubes (risetime≈800 ps) that are focused on the negative electrode tips and the center of the channel. Optical investigations of breakdown and pre-breakdown events on a nanosecond time scale will provide a better understanding of the fundamental physics of breakdown formation. Detailed optical and spectroscopic diagnostics combined with high-speed electrical diagnostics are aimed at clarifying the overall breakdown mechanisms, including electronic initiation and bubble formation. The breakdown initiation/development will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2003
Event14th IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference - Dallas, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2003Jun 18 2003


Conference14th IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDallas, TX


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