Creeping sparks

D.J.M. Trienekens, S. Nijdam, G.M.W. Kroesen, U.M. Ebert, T. Christen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


In gas insulated high voltage devices usually solid insulation materials are also present, e.g., for mechanical support of conductors or as enclosure. Even if the gaseous and solid insulation media themselves have sufficient dielectric strength, electric breakdown may still occur because the gas-solid interfaces are usually weaker. For instance, triple points of metal, gaseous, and solid insulation can be critical with respect to inception, and insulator surfaces facilitate propagation of discharges, which may lead to surface flashover. Sparks creeping along insulator surfaces are well-known, but the underlying fundamental physics is poorly understood. The improvement of (nowadays empirical) design rules of insulation devices for the prevention of surface flashover requires thus a deeper understanding of the associated physics. In this research work, the streamer-like initial phase of sparking will be investigated. A setup was built that enables to study - discharges along the surface of an insulating rod. We use stroboscopic imaging at gating frequencies up to 1 GHz in order to visualize inception and propagation of the discharge. The results indicate that streamers tend to propagate with an increased velocity along the dielectric surface upon contact. Surface discharges, however, do not appear under all circumstances: in a certain parameter region propagation in the bulk gas is preferred. The corresponding parameter window depends on gas composition, pressure, voltage, and repetition frequency.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event16th Euregional Workshop on the Exploration of Low Temperature Plasma Physics (WELTPP 2013) - Conference centre "Rolduc", Kerkrade, Netherlands
Duration: 21 Nov 201322 Nov 2013


Workshop16th Euregional Workshop on the Exploration of Low Temperature Plasma Physics (WELTPP 2013)
Abbreviated titleWELTPP-16
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Proceedings of the 16th Euregional Workshop on the Exploration of Low Temperature Plasma Physics (WELTPP-16 2012), 21-22 November 2013, Kerkrade, The Netherlands

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