In-situ plasma treatment of Cu surfaces for reducing the generation of vacuum arc breakdowns

Anton Saressalo, Aarre Kilpeläinen, Kenichiro Mizohata, Iaroslava Profatilova, Anton Nolvi, Ivan Kassamakov, Pertti O. Tikkanen, Sergio Calatroni, Walter Wuensch, Flyura Djurabekova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


High electric fields are present in a rapidly growing number of applications, which include elementary particle accelerators, vacuum interrupters, miniature x-ray sources, and satellites. Many of these applications are limited by the breakdown strength of the materials exposed to electric fields. Different methods have been developed to improve the quality of metal electrode surfaces, aiming to increase their breakdown strength. Not many systematical studies have been performed to provide a proper understanding of what contributes to the correlation between the breakdown strength and the quality of the surface. In this work, we apply a novel method for reducing vacuum arc breakdowns by cleaning the electrode surfaces with O and Ar plasma. The method can be used to alter the surfaces of the Cu electrodes in situ, i.e., without exposing them to air between the measurements. This plasma cleaning treatment is shown to reduce the number of surface impurities and to speed up the conditioning process of the samples under high-voltage pulses. Specifically, the first breakdown field was observed to increase by more than 90% after the plasma cleaning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number143302
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number14
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 114 Physical sciences
  • electrical discharge
  • plasma
  • vacuum surface interaction

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