An Overview of Electrical Processes Leading to Dielectric Breakdown of Liquids

  • T. John Lewis
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSB, volume 193)


The electrical breakdown of a dielectric liquid under high stress requires that a number of interdependent, parallel as well as sequential electronic processes occur in the liquid and at the electrodes. In addition, there is the intervention of electrically-induced but non-electronic processes such as heating and the generation of a microscopic gas phase and changes in the chemical structure of the liquid molecules. The precise nature and sequence of these processes is extraordinarily difficult to establish largely because breakdown is an instability in which a liquid-gas, insulator-conductor transition occurs very rapidly. For example, breakdown of a n-hexane sample in a 2 mm gap between electrodes establishing a field of 106V cm−1 can be complete in less than 500 ns (Wong and Forster, 1977).


Electrical Breakdown Excess Electron Breakdown Strength Pulse Radiolysis Dielectric Liquid 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. John Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Molecular and Biomolecular ElectronicsUniversity College of North WalesBangorUK

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