Displacement current and surface flashover

J. R. Harris, George J Caporaso, D. Blackfield, Y. J. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


High-voltage vacuum insulator failure is generally due to surface flashover rather than insulator bulk breakdown. Vacuum surface flashover is widely believed to be initiated by a secondary electron emission avalanche along the vacuum-insulator interface. This process requires a physical mechanism to cause secondary electrons emitted from the insulator surface to return to that surface. Here, it is shown that when an insulator is subjected to a fast high-voltage pulse, the magnetic field due to displacement current through the insulator can provide this mechanism. This indicates the importance of the voltage pulse shape, especially the rise time, in the flashover initiation process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121504
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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