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High-power, high-voltage pulse power: The basics

by Timo Stehmann4. June 2013 20:01
In some applications pulse power supplies need to handle very high currents (>10kA) and voltages (>30kV). For many decades the only devices that could come close to the required specifications were vacuum tubes. These vacuum tubes are highly specialised and were graced with their own name: Thyratrons (see image below). These are amazing devices, capable of handling very high pulse currents at mind-blowing speeds (<100ns). Since no silicon is involved, these devices are very robust but they have a limited life-time. In the early days the only alternative to thyratrons were spark gaps. Spark gaps, even today, are very fast (<50ns) and are able to handle very high voltages. Unfortunately, the life-time of spark gaps are even more limited than thyratrons. However, if you want to generate very fast pulses the quick and dirty way, then spark gaps are the way to go. In our modern commercial world thyratrons have been become out-dated for many reasons. There is the limited life-time for one and then there are the commercial restrictions. Thyratrons were/are used for nuclear weapons as well and using them in commercial devices can be troublesome. What are the alternatives? [More]

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Power electronics | Power supplies | Pulse power

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