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Solid dielectrics are universally employed throughout the electrical industry as both insulators and charge storage media. Although much research on dielectrics has been aimed at improving insulation for high-voltage equipment in the power industry, there are numerous other applications for which a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of conduction and breakdown are imperative to allow informed design of equipment. The failure mode of thin, inorganic films such as silicon dioxide (SiO2) used as insulators in the microelectronics industry is a good example [1,2]. The development of dielectric materials themselves also relies on an understanding of the way they behave in electric fields. The large-scale acceptance of polymeric materials for insulating duties has come about, in part, as the result of the ability of the polymer industry to tailor and process materials to the needs of electrical applications.
Corporate Research and Development, General Electric Co.Center for Electric Power Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, SchenectadyTroy, N.Y.N.Y.