Behavior of a High Current Vacuum Arc Between Hollow Cylindrical Electrodes in a Radial Magnetic Field

Raymond L. Boxman, Eli Gerby, S. Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experimental observations were conducted on the behavior of a high current vacuum arc on cylindrical electrodes in a radial magnetic field. The arc was sustained between the ends of two cylindrical Cu electrodes, 54-mm diam and 1.5-mm wall thickness separated by 5 mm. Arc current pulses with peak values in the range 4–15 kA with a half amplitude full width (HAFW) duration of 8 ms were investigated with radial magnetic fields proportional to the instantaneous current with proportionality constants of 4.0 and 6.5 × 10-6 T/A. The arcs were photographed simultaneously with a streak camera and by a high speed framing camera and the arc voltage was recorded on a digitizing transient recorder. The results indicated that the arc in this geometry, both with and without an imposed radial magnetic field, can be characterized by three development stages: a) arc formation, b) diffuse arc along the electrode perimeter, and c) simultaneous existence of several concentrated arc columns. When a radial magnetic field was imposed two changes were noted: 1) the arc appeared somewhat more distributed in that a greater number of constricted columns were observed, and they were distributed more evenly; and 2) the constricted columns moved in the J × B direction with velocities in the range 5–35 m/s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-313
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1980


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