Electrical and Computer Engineering ETDs

Compact Sealed Spark Gaps

Seth Miller


Spark gaps have always been a good solution for high power switching. They are simple, cheap, handle a large amount of Coulomb transfer, and are more forgiving to work with compared to solid state alternatives. Even with solid state switching advancing a long way since the 20th century, spark gaps outperform them in terms of peak power handling capabilities, Coulomb transfer, and make them attractive for higher power systems. Most lab settings use spark gaps because the cost is low, and they can be repaired if they break or wear out as opposed to a semiconductor alternative. While this technology is great for the lab, little work has been done to move these high power spark gaps out of the lab and into the real world, which introduces new problems and concerns. This thesis investigates some of these problems, along with testing new approaches to a sealed switch design.