Pulsed dielectric-surface flashover in an SF6 environment

John T. Krile, Russell Vela, Andreas A. Neuber, Hermann G. Krompholz

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9 Scopus citations


A recently upgraded laser-triggered gas switch at Sandia National Laboratories has developed a failure mode that results in the breakdown spark tracking to the inside of the containment envelope. These breakdowns along the surface, or surface flashovers, degrade the performance of the overall switch, causing the switch to prefire in the successive shot. In the following, experimental results of pulsed surface flashover across different dielectric materials in SF6 primarily at atmospheric pressure, as well as flashover and volume breakdown in SF6 at pressures from 1.3 to 365.4 kPa are presented. In addition to fast voltage and current monitoring of the breakdown event, an increased emphasis was put on imaging the event as well as gathering optical emission spectra ( ∼200-700 nm) from it. As much as possible, the small-scale experiments were designed to reproduce, at least partly, the conditions as they are found in the large 5-MV switch. An effort was made to determine what changes could be made to reduce the occurrence of surface flashovers, in addition to some broadly applicable conclusions on surface flashovers in an SF6 environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1580-1587
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number5 II
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Dielectric materials
  • Electric breakdown
  • Flashover
  • UV-radiation effects


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