The Effects of Pressure and Temperature on Partial Discharge Degradation of Silicone Conformal Coatings

Christopher Emersic, Robert Lowndes, Ian Cotton, Simon Rowland

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    The partial discharge damage rates for silicone-coated printed circuit boards have been quantified in a series of experiments at pressures and temperatures relevant to the aerospace industry (down to 116 mbar, –55°C to +70°C) and up to 6 kV. Surface cracking was observed, and damage magnitude was found to be non-linear with coating thickness, with thinner coatings experiencing relatively greater damage rates. This is attributed to higher surface electric fields for a given energisation voltage. Increasing temperature or reducing pressure increased the rate of damage. For coating thicknesses less than 100 μm, reducing pressure to 116 mbar (1 mbar = 100 Pa) increased the relative crack growth rate by nearly an order of magnitude. Temperature change had the most profound influence on damage; low temperatures were observed to substantially reduce damage rate, with very little or no damage observed, whereas higher temperatures substantially increased damage rate, with the resulting magnitude of surface damage too large to quantify. Silicone coatings of thickness greater than 250 μm showed no appreciable damage from partial discharge when aged at either low pressure or high temperature at voltages up to 6 kV. Corresponding damage-free surface electric fields are computed. No samples were observed to fail, indicating the robustness of high quality silicone coatings. Possible causes of crack formation in silicone are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2986-2994
    Number of pages8
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2017


    • Aerospace testing
    • Partial discharges
    • Coatings
    • Aircraft power systems
    • Power electronics


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