Electrostatic Discharge Breakdown Analysis

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

USU Student Showcase

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Faculty Mentor

JR. Dennison


Electrostatic discharge (ESD) and the associated material breakdown is the primary cause for spacecraft damage due to space environment interactions. This phenomenon occurs when the space plasma fluxes charge a craft to high voltages where insulating materials then break down. This failure allows current to flow freely through the material which; can damage or destroy onboard electrical systems. My work focuses on the effects of these breakdowns on suspect materials commonly used for electrical insulation in space. The USU Material Physics Group has performed ESD tests on hundreds of samples to date. The ESD damage sites of these samples have been analyzed for parameters including breakdown size, shape, location, thickness, and polymer type. The results have been recorded in an ESD Quality Summary Table. Initial trends within this data set are being indentified and sorted within the matrix based on experimental parameters in order to locate more trends. Information that we have already found; as well as correlations which we hope to find, will aid in predicting which materials are best suited for use in high voltage scenarios.

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