The impact of field enhancements and charge injection on the pulsed breakdown strength of water

David A. Wetz, John J. Mankowski, James C. Dickens, Magne Kristiansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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A unique theoretical model of the breakdown mechanism in water has been developed and further tested in both simulation software and experimentation. The conducted experiments test the degree to which electrode material, surface roughness, and surface area impact the dielectric strength of water. Voltage pulses with respective rise times of roughly 200 and 20 ns were applied to a water test gap producing electric fields in excess of 1.5 MV/cm. In experiments testing various electrode materials, thin film coatings of various metallic alloys and oxides were applied to Bruce-profiled stainless steel electrodes, with an effective area of 5 cm2, through ion beam deposition. Similar Bruceprofiled stainless steel electrodes with surface roughness ranging from 0.26 to 1.96 μm and effective areas ranging from 0.5 to 75 cm2 were used in the study of surface roughness and area. Additionally, shadowgraph images of a point plane geometry were taken to further understand the breakdown processes that occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1670-1679
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number5 I
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006



  • Compact pulsed power
  • Pulsed breakdown
  • Water breakdown

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