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Influence of field electron emission from the cathode with a thin insulating film on minimum ignition voltage of low current gas discharge


V.I. Kristya – Dr.Sc.(Phys.-Math.), Professor, Kaluga branch of the Bauman MSTU
E.V. Vershinin – Ph.D.(Phys.-Math.), Associate Professor, Kaluga branch of the Bauman MSTU
Myo Thi Ha – Post-graduate Student, Kaluga branch of the Bauman MSTU

An important characteristic of gas discharge devices, such as illuminating lamps, plasma displays, gas lasers, is the discharge ignition voltage. Its reduction results in a decrease of the intensity of cathode sputtering and in an increase of the device service time due to a reduction of energies of ions, bombarding the cathode surface. Value of the ignition voltage depends substantially on the cathode effective secondary electron emission yield, which is equal to average number of electrons emitted per a falling ion. A method of re-duction of the discharge ignition voltage consists in formation of a thin insulating film on the cathode. When the current flows in the interelectrode gap, positive charges are accumulated on its surface. They generate the electric field in insulator, sufficient for existence of the field electron emission from the electrode metal substrate into the film. A fraction of such electrons can overcome the potential barrier at the dielectric outer boundary and go out into the discharge volume, increasing the cathode effective secondary emission yield.
In this work, a model of low current gas discharge in flat interelectrode gap under the presence of a thin insulating film on the cathode is developed. Dependence of the cathode effective secondary electron emission yield and the discharge ignition voltage on the film emission efficiency equal to the fraction of electrons emitted into the film, which goes out of the film, is investigated. It is shown that formation of a thin oxide film on the cathode of a gas discharge device can result in a considerable decrease of its discharge ignition voltage.

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