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9th Spacecraft Charging Technology Conference


Spacecraft Charging Technology

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Resistivity values were experimentally determined using charge storage methods for six samples remaining from the construction of the Internal Discharge Monitor (IDM) flown on the Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite (CRRES). Three tests were performed over a period of four to five weeks each in a vacuum of ~5×10-6 torr with an average temperature of ~25 ºC to simulate a space environment. Samples tested included FR4, PTFE, and alumina with copper electrodes attached to one or more of the sample surfaces. FR4 circuit board material was found to have a dark current resistivity of ~1×1018 Ω-cm and a moderately high polarization current. Fiber filled PTFE exhibited little polarization current and a dark current resistivity of ~3×1020 Ω-cm. Alumina had a measured dark current resistivity of ~3·1017 Ω-cm, with a very large and more rapid polarization. Experimentally determined resistivity values were two to three orders of magnitude more than found using standard ASTM test methods. The one minute wait time suggested for the standard ASTM tests is much shorter than the measured polarization current decay times for each sample indicating that the primary currents used to determine ASTM resistivity are caused by the polarization of molecules in the applied electric field rather than charge transport through the bulk of the dielectric. Testing over much longer periods of time in vacuum is required to allow this polarization current to decay away and to allow the observation of charged particles transport through a dielectric material. Application of a simple physics-based model allows separation of the polarization current and dark current components from long duration measurements of resistivity over day- to month-long time scales. Model parameters are directly related to the magnitude of charge transfer and storage and the rate of charge transport.


Paper presented at the 9th Spacecraft Charging Technology Conference. PDF available for download through link above.

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