Towards a better understanding of dielectric barrier discharges in ferroelectrets: Paschen breakdown fields in micrometer sized voids

Scott Harris, Axel Mellinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Charged cellular polypropylene foams (i.e., ferro- or piezoelectrets) demonstrate high piezoelectric activity upon being electrically charged. When an external electric field is applied, dielectric barrier discharges (DBDs) occur, resulting in a separation of charges which are subsequently deposited on dielectric surfaces of internal micrometer sized voids. This deposited space charge is responsible for the piezoelectric activity of the material. Previous studies have indicated charging fields larger than predicted by Townsend's model of Paschen breakdown applied to a multilayered electromechanical model; a discrepancy which prompted the present study. The actual breakdown fields for micrometer sized voids were determined by constructing single cell voids using polypropylene spacers with heights ranging from 8 to 75 μm, "sandwiched" between two polypropylene dielectric barriers and glass slides with semi-transparent electrodes. Subsequently, a bipolar triangular charging waveform with a peak voltage of 6 kV was applied to the samples. The breakdown fields were determined by monitoring the emission of light due to the onset of DBDs using an electron multiplying CCD camera. The breakdown fields at absolute pressures from 101 to 251 kPa were found to be in good agreement with the standard Paschen curves. Additionally, the magnitude of the light emission was found to scale linearly with the amount of gas, i.e., the height of the voids. Emissions were homogeneous over the observed regions of the voids for voids with heights of 25 μm or less and increasingly inhomogeneous for void heights greater than 40 μm at high electric fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number163302
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Volume115
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 28 2014

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