Pulsed dielectric surface flashover in nitrogen at atmospheric conditions

Kim P. Morales, John T. Krile, Andreas A. Neuber, Hermann G. Krompholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Dielectric flashover along insulators in vacuum has been comprehensively researched in the past. Less studied, but of similar importance, is surface flashover at atmospheric pressures and the impact of an atypical electrode geometry, humidity, and ultraviolet (UV) illumination. Previous research has shown distinct discharge behavior in air and nitrogen environments for an electrode geometry in which the applied electric field lines curve above the dielectric surface. It was concluded that the discharge development path, whether along the electric field lines or the surface of the dielectric, is related to the oxygen content in the atmospheric background. It is believed that this dependence is due to the discharge's production of UV radiation in an oxygen rich environment. Thus, experiments were conducted in a nitrogen environment employing UV surface illumination in order to observe the affects on the flashover spark behavior. From the experimental data, it can be ascertained that UV illumination and intensity play a significant role in the discharge development path. Based on these results an explanation of the physical mechanisms primarily involved in unipolar surface flashover will be presented. Additional experiments regarding the effects of humidity on the discharge behavior will be discussed as well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1667739
Pages (from-to)803-809
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2006


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


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