Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

John R. Dennison


John R. Dennison


D. Mark Riffe


David Peak


Bela G. Fejer


Stephen Bialkowski


The properties and behaviors of charge transport mechanisms in highly insulating polymers are investigated by measuring conduction currents through thin film samples of low density polyethylene (LDPE). Measurements were obtained using a constant voltage method with copper electrodes inside a chamber adapted for measurements under vacuum and over a wide range of temperatures and applied fields. Field-dependent behaviors, including Poole-Frenkel conduction, space charge limited current (SCLC), and Schottky charge injection, were investigated at constant temperature. These field-dependent mechanisms were found to predict incorrect values of the dielectric constant and the field dependence of conductivity in LDPE was not found to be in agreement with SCLC predicted behavior. A model of thermally assisted hopping was a good fit at low applied fields and produced activation energies within the accepted range for LDPE. Low applied field measurements over the range of 213 K to 338 K were used to investigate two prominent hopping conduction mechanisms: thermally assisted hopping and variable range hopping. The observed temperature dependence of LDPE was found to be consistent with both thermally assisted hopping and variable range hopping. Activation energies determined for the range of temperatures were consistent with values reported in the literature for LDPE under similar conditions. A third aspect of charge transport behavior is a bulk response with time dependence. Conductivity behavior is examined in relation to transient current behavior, long time decay currents, and electrostatic discharge. Comparing charging and discharging cycles allowed qualitative separation of polarization and multiple trapping behaviors.




This work was revised and made publicly available electronically on July 18, 2011