Three-Dimensional Time-Domain Finite-Element Simulation of Dielectric Breakdown Based on Nonlinear Conductivity Model

Su Yan, Jianming Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dielectric breakdown during high-power operation is hazardous to electric and electronic devices and systems. During the breakdown process, the bound charges break free and are pushed to move by the force of high-intensity fields. As a result, a reduction in the resistance of an insulator can be observed, and a portion of the insulator becomes electrically conductive. Such a process can be described as the change of conductivity of the dielectric, which in this case, is a nonlinear function of the electric field. In this paper, the nonlinear conductivity is incorporated into Maxwell's equations, and the resulting nonlinear equation is solved using the time-domain finite-element method together with Newton's method (NM). The Jacobian matrix required in the NM is analytically derived to obtain a numerical solution with good accuracy and efficiency. A fixed-point method is also presented to provide numerical solutions as a validation for the NM. Several numerical examples are presented to demonstrate the capability of the proposed algorithm and the nonlinear effect caused by the nonlinear conductivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7457347
Pages (from-to)3018-3026
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2016


  • Dielectric breakdown
  • high-power micro-wave (HPM)
  • Newton's method (NM)
  • nonlinear conductivity
  • nonlinear modeling
  • surface flashover
  • third harmonic generation (THG)
  • time-domain finite-element method (TDFEM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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