[INTRODUCTION]Most experimental studies of electrical ageing have concentrated on semi-crystalline polymers such as those used in cable insulation and capacitors (see for example ). Theoretical models [2-4] for electrical ageing have been developed on the basis of these studies. The consensus is that ageing involves the formation of low-density regions, though the mechanisms responsible are disputed. For example, bond scission by high-energy electrons [2,5], and mechanical deformation have both been suggested. Both of these mechanisms are related to charge injection and the subsequent formation of high local fields. The semi-crystalline polymers studied so far have similar chemistries and almost identical morphologies. They tend, therefore, to show many similarities in, for example, the size of the energy barriers for the ageing reaction, critical ageing levels, and field dependence of ageing . These similarities make it difficult to discriminate between mechanisms. Epoxy resins, however, are network polymers with a different molecular chemistry to that of the semi-crystalline polymers and are thus ideal to evaluate the proposed ageing mechanisms. We have therefore studied an epoxy resin (CY1301) under both uniform field and high divergent field conditions. Uniform field conditions were used to gain baseline characteristics for the properties of the unaged epoxy resin, and also for the effects of electrical ageing in low fields. Studies in high divergent fields were made using an electrode arrangement adapted from that of . A number of wires set approximately 0.5mm apart were embedded, parallel to the flat faces, in thin (290 m ) flat samples. The radius of the wires ranged from 5 m (gold plated tungsten) to 25 m (tungsten). Relatively small voltages applied to the wires (5 kV DC) therefore produced local fields up to 170 kV/mm depending upon the wire radius chosen. These field levels are high enough to inject space-charge  without leading to instantaneous failure. This geometry, therefore, may both inject charge and simulate local stress enhancements arising from charge accumulation. The number of wires is large (30) so that the volume affected is big enough to allow changes on ageing to be detectable.Peer-reviewedPost-print8th International Conference on Dielectric Materials, Measurements and Applications, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland
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