Calendar of Events

Events Calendar

Capturing Lightning: Investigation of the high speed dynamics of novel dielectric tree formation

Date and Time: Wednesday, March 06, 2024, 03:30pm - 04:30pm
Location: Room 330W & Zoom (

Speaker:   Timothy Koeth (University of Maryland)

Abstract: Dielectric components play an integral role in the electronic communication, navigation, and defense systems and devices which underpin daily life in our modern world. For many of these devices, particularly those which are designed to operate in high-radiation environments like space, space charging and resulting dielectric breakdown present a persistent and pressing challenge for long term functionality. However, despite constituting a primary cause of failure for these materials, the dynamics of dielectric breakdown in bulk dielectric materials are not well understood. This is due in large part to the immense speeds at which these events occur, making it incredibly difficult to visualize. In order to systematically study dielectric breakdown in dielectrics, a novel optical delay line apparatus was developed to use in imaging this high-jitter, extremely fast phenomena. The resulting images obtained present the first-ever opportunity to undertake a detailed analysis of the propagation dynamics of the dielectric breakdown in poly-methyl methacrylate. The result of this work include the identification of two distinct types of electrical tree formation, including a previously unreported classification. More significantly, the propagation of this novel electrical tree type was observed to exceed ten million meters per second and is believed to be the fastest physical phenomenon to ever be optically imaged in a solid material. The results of this analysis, and the ongoing work surrounding the characterization of charge loaded dielectric materials will be presented. 

Host: Yuri Gershtein