Consider this stack of materials: metal - dielectric - air - dielectric - metal Assume that air has a lower breakdown field than the dielectric. As the voltage (DC) on the metal electrodes increases the field inside the air gap increases and eventually reaches breakdown causing it to become conductive. However since the dielectrics are still insulating no current can flow. My understanding has been that damage to circuit components is caused by the effective short circuit during breakdown and the resulting large current flow. Since this current is suppressed, does any damage still occur? My questions are: 1) can an arc be supported with these insulating dielectric layers? 2) Do you expect any permanent damage to the dielectrics?