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Pulsed Power Opening Switch Research at the University of New Mexico

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Opening switch research at the University of New Mexico (UNM) is directed toward moderate-current (~10 kA) devices with potential applications to high-power charged particle accelerators. Two devices with the capacity for controlling gigawatt high-voltage circuits, the grid-controlled plasma flow switch and the scanned-beam switch, are under investigation. Both switches are conceptually simple; they involve little collective physics and are within the capabilities of current technology. In the plasma flow switch, the flux of electrons into a high-voltage power gap is controlled by a low-voltage control grid. Plasma generation is external to, and independent of, the power circuit. In the closed phase, plasma fills the gap so that the switch has a low on-state impedance. Pulse repetition rates in the megahertz range should be feasible. In single-shot proof-of-principle experiments, a small area switch modulated a 3-MW circuit; a 20-ns opening time was observed. The scanned-beam switch will utilize electric field deflection to direct the power of a sheet electron beam. The beam is to be alternately scanned to two inverse diodes connected to output transmission lines. The switch is expected to generate continuous-wave pulse trains for applications such as high-frequency induction linacs. Theoretical studies indicate that 10-GW devices in the 100-MHz range with 70-percent efficiency should be technologically feasible.

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:15 ,  Issue: 6 )