Design, fabrication, and testing of a microfabricated Corona Ionizer

Beelee Chua, Anthony S. Wexler, Norman C. Tien, Debbie A. Niemeier, Britt A. Holmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


A microfabricated corona ionizer is developed for miniaturized air particle monitoring instruments. Peek's breakdown criterion and Warburg's Law are used to calculate the required electrode geometries. Single mask electroplating is employed as the microfabrication technique. Devices with discharge pin radius of 20 μm and interelectrode spacing of 1.4, 1.8, 2.0, and 2.2 mm are fabricated and tested. The inception voltages in the range from 1.4 to 2 kV are achieved without substrate breakdown. It consumes relatively low power at 150 mW or less. Corona charging currents of more than 50 μA were achieved before streamers break down. The experimental results also demonstrated the nondependency of the inception voltage on the pin's radius of curvature so long as it is significantly smaller than the interelectrode spacing. There is only one value of inception voltage for each given interelectrode spacing (1.4 to 2.2 mm) with the pin's radius of curvature ranging from 10 to 200 μm. This implies that strict dimensional control is not required in the microfabrication process in order to ensure the same inception voltage for each device.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Feb


  • Avalanche
  • Corona
  • Discharge
  • Electroplating
  • Inception
  • Ionizer
  • Microfabricated
  • Plasma
  • Streamer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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