High Voltage Laboratory Seminar

Engineering High Voltage Insulation in Space

Dr. Hulya Kirkici
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Auburn University

Monday, April 23, 2007
3:00pm, ECE Conference Room

Abstract: High voltage insulation is defined as the electrical insulation designed to prevent breakdown in a circuit operating at high voltages. However, the definition of high voltage differs based on each application. In utility power systems, high voltage is a voltage in the order of thousands of volts. In space applications, it is simply defined as the voltage above which breakdown phenomena are likely to occur and can range from as low as 10 up to 100s of volts. In general, comprehensive knowledge of electrical insulation design techniques is essential to design and manufacture any reliable power system, and is more important for space power systems due to many other constraints encountered in a space - or high altitude - environment.

Most techniques developed for terrestrial equipment cannot be extended to equipment operating at high altitude (partial pressure) conditions, because these high voltage equipment/modules also involve high frequency signals due to switching circuits as used in dc-dc converters and rectifiers. This presentation is an overview of space environments, space environmental effects/interactions, and high-voltage electrical/electronic design techniques required to specify and apply electrical insulation to spacecraft high-voltage parts, components and systems. Furthermore, our on-going research of breakdown phenomena under high frequency applied voltage for varying electrode geometries and surface flashover events across nanodielectric materials in partial pressure are also presented.

Hulya Kirkici received the B.S. and M.S. in physics from Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara, Turkey, in 1981, and 1984 respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY in 1990.

She held a Research Fellow position at the Weber Research Institute from 1990 to 92, and at the Space Power Institute from 1992 to 93 before joining the ECE Department of Auburn University in 1993, where she is an Associate Professor.

Her research includes electrical insulation and power conditioning in space and high altitude environments, plasma physics, nanodielectrics, vacuum/dielectric breakdown, and optical diagnostics. She has published over 20 journal/Transactions papers, over 50 conference papers, and received over $1,000,000 in research grants and contracts.

Dr. Kirkici was a visiting scientist/engineer at NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville AL from 1999 to 2002 during her sabbatical leave from Auburn University, has also been a visiting professor in the summers of 1999 and 2002 at the METU, Istanbul Technical University, and Canakkale 18-Mart University with a grant/award from the United Nations/TUBITAK (Turkish National Scientific Foundation). She has a grant from NSF for collaborative work with Istanbul Tech University where she gives talks and works with students regularly.

Dr. Kirkici is a Senior Member of IEEE, member of the American Physical Society, Sigma Xi Scientific Honor Society, and Eta Kappa Nu Electrical Engineering Honor Society.

She is the Vice President-Administrative of IEEE-Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society (2007 to present), and has held various positions within the DEIS, including the IEEE-DEIS Vice President- Technical (2005 - 2007), Local Chair of the IEEE-CEIDP in 1998, Chair of the 2002 High Voltage Workshop, General Chair of the 2004 IEEE Power Modulator Conference in 2004, and Treasurer of the 2006 IEEE International Power Modulator Conference.

She was Associate Editor of the IEEE-Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation (1998-2006) and Co-Guest Editor of the IEEE-Transactions on Plasma Science (2002-Pulsed Power) and IEEE-Transactions on Plasma Science (2005 Power Modulators and Repetitive Pulsed Power).