Résumé
In electronics, electrical breakdown or dielectric breakdown is a process that occurs when an electrically insulating material (a dielectric), subjected to a high enough voltage, suddenly becomes a conductor and current flows through it. All insulating materials undergo breakdown when the electric field caused by an applied voltage exceeds the material's dielectric strength. The voltage at which a given insulating object becomes conductive is called its breakdown voltage and, in addition to its dielectric strength, depends on its size and shape, and the location on the object at which the voltage is applied. Under sufficient electrical potential, electrical breakdown can occur within solids, liquids, or gases (and theoretically even in a vacuum). However, the specific breakdown mechanisms are different for each kind of dielectric medium. Electrical breakdown may be a momentary event (as in an electrostatic discharge), or may lead to a continuous electric arc if protective devices fail to interrupt the current in a power circuit. In this case electrical breakdown can cause catastrophic failure of electrical equipment, and fire hazards. Electric current is a flow of electrically charged particles in a material caused by an electric field, usually created by a voltage difference across the material. The mobile charged particles which make up an electric current are called charge carriers. In different substances different particles serve as charge carriers: in metals and some other solids some of the outer electrons of each atom (conduction electrons) are able to move about in the material; in electrolytes and plasma it is ions, electrically charged atoms or molecules, and electrons that are charge carriers. A material that has a high concentration of charge carriers available for conduction, such as a metal, will conduct a large current with a given electric field, and thus has a low electrical resistivity; this is called an electrical conductor.
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