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Electrical breakdown in the microscale: testing the standard theory



Emmanouel S. Hourdakis, Garnett W. Bryant, Neil M. Zimmerman


We present breakdown voltage measurement data in air taken with a technique we recently developed. The data suggests that below 10 ?m of electrode separation the dominant effect is field emission of electrons from the electrodes. Analyzing the data in that regime, using the theory of standard field emission and field amplification on the surface of a conductor we come to a prediction about the geometry of the surface roughness induced protrusions on the electrodes. For the first time, we look for these protrusions using an AFM. We find several reasons why the standard theory does not appear to explain our data. We also present calculations that show that the common assumption that one protrusion is responsible for the observed current is not warranted. We conclude that the standard theory is not sufficient.
Physical Review B (Condensed Matter and Materials Physics)


Hourdakis, E. , Bryant, G. and Zimmerman, N. (2006), Electrical breakdown in the microscale: testing the standard theory, Physical Review B (Condensed Matter and Materials Physics), [online], (Accessed April 12, 2024)
Created December 28, 2006, Updated October 12, 2021