Letter | Published:

Stable cold cathode arc

Naturevolume 254pages131132 (1975) | Download Citation



THE cold cathode arc, so called because of the very high current densities and low temperatures observed at the cathode, has been subjected to intensive theoretical and experimental study1–4. Many theories of the ‘cathode spot’ have been proposed, but distinguishing between them experimentally has proved to be a formidable task, because of the rapid and unstable motion of the spot, and the large pressure and temperature gradients existing within a very short distance of the cathode surface.


  1. 1

    Ecker, G., Erg. d. exakt. Naturwiss, 33, 1 (1961).

  2. 2

    von Engel, A., Ionised Gases, second ed., 81 and 273 (Oxford University Press, London, 1965).

  3. 3

    Hoyaux, M. F., Arc Physics (Springer, New York, 1968).

  4. 4

    Guile, A. E., Proc. Inst. elect. Engrs., 118, 1131 (1971).

  5. 5

    Robson, A. E., and von Engel, A., Proc. R. Soc., A 243, 217 (1957).

  6. 6

    Langmuir, L., and Taylor, J. B., Phys. Rev., 44, 423 (1933).

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  1. Department of Engineering Science, University of Durham, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK

    • V. G. ENDEAN


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