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Electrical Cable Testing by Pulse-Arrested Spark Discharge (PASD)


Sandia has developed an advanced electrical wiring diagnostic capable of detecting insulation defects in complex wiring systems. The portable diagnostic system detects and accurately locates hard to find insulation defects such as breached insulation, chaffing, and insulation cracks. PASD could greatly reduce the time required to track down wiring defects, as it can typically locate these defects within inches.


The PASD technique uses a high-voltage, low-energy, short pulse to induce an electrical spark breakdown at the site of an insulation defect. The pulse energy is insufficient to damage to insulation or the conductors within the wiring systems. PASD has been demonstrated to be effective in several challenging environments and has consistently detected wiring system defects which cannot be seen through visual inspection.


  • Detects and locates insulation defects in complex wiring systems
  • Portable automatic system
  • Nondestructive diagnostic
  • Typically locates defects within inches
  • Detects faults which cannot be seen through visual inspection

Applications and Industries

  • Aircraft and aerospace
  • Communications
  • Construction and maintenance
  • Electric Utility
  • Mining
  • Nuclear power
  • Oil and gas
  • Public safety
  • Transportation and automotive

Intellectual Property

ID Number
Patent Number
Method and apparatus for electrical cable testing by pulse-arrested spark discharge 7073.0 6,853,196 02/08/2005
Technology IDSD#7073Development StageDevelopment - Technology Readiness Level: Sandia estimates this technology’s TRL at level 8. The diagnostic device has been proven to work in its field of use under expected conditions and has achieved actual system completion.AvailabilityAvailable - Various licensing and partnering options are available. Please contact the Intellectual Property department to discuss. Published09/29/2011Last Updated02/05/2013