In order to study the relationship between the discharge characteristics of an ac plasma display panel and the surface conductivity of a MgO thin film, we measured the surface current across a ring-shaped MgO film temporally induced by exposure to monochromatic vacuum ultraviolet radiation from a synchrotron radiation source whose wavelength ranges from 60 to 240 nm (5.525eV). The experimental results show that the surface current begins to increase rapidly at a photon energy of about 9 eV which might correspond to the valence band edge of MgO. The differences in the surface current level correlate well with the differences in the preparation method of the MgO films and their respective discharge characteristics, such as firing, minimum sustained voltages, address voltage margins, and address discharge delay times. Surface charge measurements using the linear electro-optic effect also show consistent correlations with the surface current measurement of each MgO sample.

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