Publication Date



In this research we examine high voltage breakdowns (HVBs) during neutron tube conditioning which has been a problem for decades. In the recent past there has been much debate on whether or not to procure a real-time airborne monitoring system for the commercial production of neutron tubes in order to determine the effect and calculate the impact of airborne particles. The main problem is, such monitoring system is costly, and with the exact causes of HVBs not being fully known, the expense must be justified. The goal of this thesis was to analyze the instrumentation used in airborne particle monitoring in order to assert that the instruments were reliable in obtaining the data needed to make improvements. General reliability studies on the instruments were conducted followed by a quasi-experiment which led to the finding that airborne particulates have a measureable effect on external HVBs. This finding led to an observational study on the production floor which examines internal HVBs. An exploratory analysis of the data obtained was conducted and preliminary results showed that the particles may influence the occurrence of internal HVBs in the tubes. As a result of this research the data justified the need to have a real-time airborne monitoring system in order to conduct further research and funding for the system was granted.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Mathematics & Statistics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Curtis B. Storlie

Second Committee Member

Marianna D. LaNoue

Third Committee Member

Michele Guindani

Project Sponsors

Sandia National Laboratories




Neutron sources, Contamination (Technology), Breakdown (Electricity), Air--Pollution--Measurement--Instruments, Air quality monitoring stations

Document Type