Pre-breakdown evaluation of gas discharge mechanisms in microgaps

Abbas Semnani, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Ayyaswamy Venkattraman, Purdue University
Alina A. Alexeenko, Purdue University
Dimitrios Peroulis, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

Date of this Version



Copyright 2013 American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. The following article appeared in Appl. Phys. Lett. 102, 174102 (2013); and may be found at The following article has been submitted to/accepted by Applied Physics Letters. Copyright 2013 Abbas Semnani, Ayyaswamy Venkattraman, Alina A. Alexeenko and Dimitrios Peroulis. This article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


The individual contributions of various gas discharge mechanisms to total pre-breakdown current in microgaps are quantified numerically. The variation of contributions of field emission and secondary electron emission with increasing electric field shows contrasting behavior even for a given gap size. The total current near breakdown decreases rapidly with gap size indicating that microscale discharges operate in a high-current, low-voltage regime. This study provides the first such analysis of breakdown mechanisms and aids in the formulation of physics-based theories for microscale breakdown. (C) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology