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Physics/breakdown voltage vacuum


QUESTION: Good day.

It is possible to break the vacuum using Ultra High Voltage 1e9 V?

Thank you.

ANSWER: Hello Marian,

Notice in the following website that a formula is given for Vb that shows that the breakdown voltage is a function of the quality of the vacuum and of the gap distance (among other factors).

Notice also in the paper presented in this website that on page 359 of the IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation publication (page 2 of the website) that in the conditions of their work the breakdown voltage is linearly proportional to the gap distance (Vo=a*d).
Also on that page, notice that they report breakdown voltages ranging between 1420 V and 3850 V as they varied the composition of the alloy of their electrodes.

The voltage you are asking about is much larger, by a factor of more than 100,000, than the voltages that produced breakdown in their tests. The gap they used in the tests that yielded breakdown voltage of a few thousand volts was 1 micrometer. You haven't specified your conditions. Without more information about your conditions, I can not give an answer. If the gap that you are thinking about is larger, like 1 meter, 1e9 V might not be large enough. Send more details in a followup if you like, however it is unlikely that you could describe a scenario in sufficient detail that I could give a definite answer.

I hope this helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank very much.

Hello again Marian,
Thank you for the high ratings and the donation.

A gap of 1 mm is 1000 times greater than was used in the study at uchicago (the 2nd website) when they obtained breakdown with a few thousand V. With your 1 mm gap, you would expect arcs with a voltage greater by 1000, or a few million volts.   1e9 V is greater than a few million volts by about 300 (or more depending on which of the uchicago trials you wish to compare against). That is a significant margin, so I would predict that you would achieve breakdown.

I can't speculate on production of particles or energy.

I hope this helps,

If I reach Breaking through, one could gradually increased the gap?
And if so, could constitute savy enter the wormhole, or into hyperspace?



Hello Marian,

On this I am not certain. If you were in breakdown with gas present, the gas would ionize and in that case you could then increase the gap without increasing the voltage. But in an ultra-high vacuum, there would not be any gas to ionize. I can't think of any other phenomenon that might allow you to increase the gap without increasing voltage.

About wormholes and hyperspace, I don't know - in the realm of science fiction I am sure you could. I am sorry, your followup fell through a crack in my attention to details. I apologize for the delay.

I hope this helps,


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Steve Johnson


I would be delighted to help with questions up through the first year of college Physics. Particularly Electricity, Electronics and Newtonian Mechanics (motion, acceleration etc.). I decline questions on relativity and Atomic Physics. I also could discuss the Space Shuttle and space flight in general.


I have a BS in Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering. I am retired now. My professional career was in Electrical Engineering with considerable time spent working with accelerometers, gyroscopes and flight dynamics (Physics related topics) while working on the Space Shuttle. I gave formal classroom lessons to technical co-workers periodically over a several year period.

BS Physics, North Dakota State University
MS Electrical Engineering, North Dakota State University

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