Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Sub-micron gap capacitor for measurement of breakdown voltage in air



Emmanouel S. Hourdakis, Brian Simonds, Neil M. Zimmerman


We have developed a new method for measuring the value of breakdown voltage in air for electrode separations from 400 nm to 45 'm. The electrodes used were thin film Au lines evaporated on sapphire. The resulting capacitors had an area of 80 'm by 80 'm. We demonstrate the ability to deduce the value of the separation of the plates by the value of the capacitance. The data acquired with this method do not agree with Paschen's law for electrode separations below 10 'm, as expected from previous experiments. Amongst the improvements of our method are the measurement of plate separation and the very small surface roughness ( avg. of 6 nm ). All data were taken at room temperature and atmospheric pressure.
Review of Scientific Instruments


Hourdakis, E. , Simonds, B. and Zimmerman, N. (2006), Sub-micron gap capacitor for measurement of breakdown voltage in air, Review of Scientific Instruments, [online], (Accessed July 22, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created March 23, 2006, Updated October 12, 2021