Effective cathode voltage in a vacuum arc with a black body electrode configuration

Isak I. Beilis, Yosef Koulik, Raymond L. Boxman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The energy dissipated in the cathode in a vacuum arc black body assembly (VABBA) is investigated. A closed volume is formed by a water-cooled cylindrical Cu cathode and a cup-shaped W or Ta anode. Cu cathode material is emitted into the closed volume and the anode is heated by the arc. The VABBA confined and evaporated macroparticles while the plasma is extracted through small anode apertures. Arc currents are I=175 -250 A and the arc time is 150 s. The effective cathode voltage Ucef is determined calorimetrically, using a thermocouple probe. It is observed that Ucef increases with time from simrm 6.5 V for cold anodes (i.e., during conventional cathodic arcing) to a steady-state value of simrm 11.2 -12.0 V when the anode is sufficiently hot and the arc operated in the VABBA mode.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6523129
Pages (from-to)1992-1995
Number of pages4
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013


  • Calorimetric method
  • cathodic arc
  • effective cathode voltage
  • thermocouple probe
  • vacuum arc


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