Spectral analysis of pulsed volume breakdown in SF6 at high pressures

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The Z-machine, which is located at Sandia National Laboratories, is currently undergoing refurbishment to increase the output drive current. Due to increased switching voltage requirements, some switch failure modes have been identified with the laser-triggered gas switch design, including envelope surface flashover. In order to improve the performance and lifetime of these switches, a basic understanding of the underlying physics of the failure mechanisms is required. A small-scale experimental setup has been constructed to approximate conditions within the switch. The possible impact of the SF6 volume spark between the switch electrodes on the envelope surface flashover is investigated. Measured optical spectra of the SF6 volume spark over a wide pressure range, from rough vacuum to 40 psig overpressure, are analyzed regarding their potential to contribute to switch failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1163-1169
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number4 III
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Breakdown
  • SF
  • Spectroscopy


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