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A kinetic Monte Carlo study of positive streamer interaction with complex dielectric surfaces


We present a computational study of positive streamers in air propagating over dielectric plates with square channels running orthogonal to the propagation direction. The study uses a newly developed non-kinetic Particle-In-Cell model based on Îto diffusion and kinetic Monte Carlo, which does not introduce artificial smoothing of the plasma density or photo-electron distributions. These capabilities permit the computational study to use high-resolution grids with large time steps, and also incorporates geometric shielding for particle and photon transport processes. We perform Cartesian 2D simulations for channel dimensions ranging from 250 µm to 2 mm, and track streamers over a distance of 4 cm and times ranging up to 300 ns, for various voltages ranging from 15 kV to 30 kV. These baseline simulations are supplemented by additional studies on the effects of transparency to ionizing radiation, streamer reignition, dielectric permittivity, and 3D effects. The computer simulations show: 1) Larger channels restrict streamer propagation more efficiently than narrow channels, and can lead to arrested surface streamers. 2) Geometric shielding of ionizing radiation substantially reduces the number of starting electrons in neighboring channels, and thus also reduces the onset point of streamer reignition. 3) Decreasing the streamer channel separation leads to slower streamers. 4) Increasing the dielectric permittivity increases the discharge velocity. The results are of generic value to fields of research involving streamer-dielectric interactions, and in particular for high-voltage technology where streamer termination is desirable. © 2023 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.

Author keywords
dielectric; kinetic Monte Carlo; Particle-In-Cell; streamer; surface profile
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Academic article


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 321449
  • Sigma2 / NN9887K




  • SINTEF Energy Research / Elkraftteknologi



Published in

Plasma Sources Science & Technology




IOP Publishing





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