Evaluation of Constant Voltage Chamber Modifications

Justin Dekany

Abstract

Determining the electrical properties of highly insulating materials can be a challenging task. These materials are designed to greatly resist the flow of electrical current making them useful in the construction of spacecraft. Due to the fact that satellites are isolated from ground, charging caused by the plasma environment found in typical orbital radii (1) is of concern to the designers of modern spacecraft (2). The Utah State University Materials Physics Group Constant Voltage Chamber (CVC) has been designed to measure extremely low currents and low conductivity. Over the last five years, many changes have been made to improve the accuracy and precision of measurements made with the CVC, now allowing currents as low as hundreds of attoamps (3, 4, 5). In developing a data analysis procedure, a program has been written to quickly generate reports of the temperature, current, and conductivity which include standard deviation and statistical analysis of the instrumentation error for the system (5). This has allowed for immediate assessment of the system operation providing a means to more easily improve the quality of data taken with the CVC.