Short-pulse high-power microwave surface flashover at 3 GHz

J. T. Krile, L. McQuage, G. F. Edmiston, J. Walter, A. A. Neuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


High-power microwave (HPM)-induced surface flashover is investigated in order to gain a better understanding of this phenomenon and reduce the limitations it imposes on transmitted power levels. This paper builds on previous testing using a magnetron producing 5 MW for 4 μs at 2.85 GHz. Both the previous and current experimental setups are designed to produce a flashover on the high-pressure side of a transmission window without the influence of a triple point. The limitations of the previous experiment included a maximum power of 5 MW and a pulse rise time of 50 ns. The current HPM source is an experimental virtual cathode oscillator (vircator), the output of which has been extensively characterized. The vircator is capable of producing 50-MW peak for 100 ns with an adjustable frequency from 3 to 5 GHz and a rise time of < 4 ns. The dominant modes of the vircator and magnetron are the circular TE 11 and rectangular TE10 modes, respectively, with the major electric field component in both setups normal to the direction of propagation, yielding comparable field geometries at the transmission window. The experimental setup permits the study of factors, including gas pressure, composition, temperature, and air speed. Diagnostic equipment allows the analysis of power levels and flashover luminosity with subnanosecond resolution. Additional experimental results, including a detailed analysis of the flashover delay times under various conditions, are compared with data from literature and previous testing. A trend of increasing delay time with pressure is clearly observable, and Eeff/p versus p * τ data fall within what has been previously observed in literature primarily for HPM volume breakdown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2139-2145
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2009


  • Microwave power transmission
  • surface discharges
  • waveguides


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