Sensitivity of modeled microscale gas breakdown voltage due to parametric variation
Abstract
Device miniaturization increases the importance of understanding and predicting gas breakdown and electrical discharge thresholds. At gap sizes on the order of ten microns at atmospheric pressure, field emission drives breakdown rather than Townsend avalanche. While numerical and analytical models can demonstrate this transition, a quantitative understanding of the relative importance of each parameter remains unclear. Starting from a universal model for gas breakdown across the field emission and Townsend avalanche regimes [A. M. Loveless and A. L. Garner, Phys. Plasmas 24, 113522 (2017)], this paper applies the concept of error propagation from ionizing radiation measurements to determine the relative impact of each factor on the predicted breakdown voltage. For limits of both large and small products of the dimensionless ionization coefficient, α ̄ , and gap distance, d ̄ , the electrode work function has the largest relative effect on the predicted breakdown voltages with a deviation of 50% in the work function resulting in an uncertainty in the calculated breakdown voltage of ∼84% for both α ̄ d ̄ ≫ 1 and α ̄ d ̄ ≪ 1 . This quantifies the significance of nonuniformities in material surfaces and changes in the surface structure during multiple electric field applications and help predict the breakdown voltage for small gaps, motivating better electrode characterization both initially and during repeated operation.
 Publication:

Physics of Plasmas
 Pub Date:
 October 2018
 DOI:
 10.1063/1.5042270
 Bibcode:
 2018PhPl...25j3505D