Metadata only entryThe chemical nature of electrical tree growth in a blend of high and low density polyethylene has been studied by confocal Raman microprobe spectroscopy. The observed spectra, which are easily perturbed by the Raman probe beam, can be described in terms of three components, the relative intensities of which vary from place-to-place on the sample. Throughout the body of the tree, the usual Raman bands of polyethylene are seen, but superimposed upon a pronounced fluorescent background. This suggests a degree of material degradation throughout the structure, even where there is no visible evidence of electrical discharge damage or ageing. The individual channels that make up the fractal structure of the tree can then be divided into two distinct categories. Within the core of the tree, their Raman spectra are made up of two elements; fluorescence, plus the G and D bands of sp2 hybridized carbon. Here, the tree channels are best thought of as hollow tubules surrounded by a carbonaceous shell. At the tips, the channels are characterized simply by the Raman bands of polyethylene superimposed upon a reduced fluorescent background, irrespective of their size. That is, in this region, the tree channels are simply hollow tubules within the dielectric. The transition between these two structures occurs relatively abruptly. These observations are related to the treeing process
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