Probe arcing can occur during the application of an rf pulse. It is the passage of a spark between a localized area of high voltage inside the probe to ground. In cases of severe probe arcing, one can hear a "snap" during the application of a pulse. If the probe is removed from the magnet and the cover is removed, one can see the arcing as a small "bolt of lightning" between the high voltage area and ground. When a probe arcs, the integrity of the pulse is affected and one will observe FIDs of irreproducible amplitude and phase. Needless to say, the quality of data collected on an arcing probe will be severely compromised. If a probe is permitted to arc for extended periods of time, some of the electronic components inside the probe can be permanently damaged. The amplifiers can also be damaged as arcing will cause mismatching and high levels of reflected power. Here are a few things you can do to help stop probe arcing.
1. Use lower pulse power levels.
2. If the location of the arcing can be found visually (i.e. you can see the spark), then the high voltage area and the path to ground can be wrapped with teflon tape.
3. Round off any sharp edges inside the probe as these are the areas of highest local voltage. In particular, any solder joints around the coil should be smooth.
4. Keep the coil and capacitors as far away from ground as possible.
5. Purge the inside of the probe body continuously with nitrogen gas.