Breakdown characteristics of plasma closing switch filled with air, N₂, CO₂, and Ar/O₂

Yao, Yuan and Timoshkin, Igor V. and MacGregor, Scott J. and Wilson, Mark P. and Given, Martin J. and Wang, Tao (2018) Breakdown characteristics of plasma closing switch filled with air, N₂, CO₂, and Ar/O₂. IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, 46 (10). pp. 3574-3583. ISSN 0093-3813 (

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One of the critical components of high energy density pulsed power systems used to generate short high-voltage and high-power impulses is gas-filled plasma closing switch (PCS). In recent years, significant research efforts have been aimed at finding environmentally friendly gases which can be used in the PCSs, and several gases including dry air, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, argon, and their mixtures have been considered as potentially suitable working fluids in such switches. However, the lack of knowledge of the breakdown characteristics of complex switching topologies filled with these gases limits their practical applications. Therefore, further investigation of the breakdown performance of PCSs is required, in order to establish their applicability for practical use in high-voltage pulsed power systems. This paper reports on the investigation of the breakdown characteristics of a triggered PCS topology with corona discharge electrodes. The self-breakdown voltage of the switch, variation in the self-breakdown voltage, time to breakdown, and jitter have been obtained for the switch filled with ``zero grade'' air, N₂, CO₂, and an Ar/O₂ mixture up to a pressure of 10 bar (abs). It was shown that the switch can provide a stable breakdown performance with jitter as low as 1 ns.