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Photoconductive semiconductor switches

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9 Author(s)
G. M. Loubriel ; Sandia Nat. Labs., Albuquerque, NM, USA ; F. J. Zutavern ; A. G. Baca ; H. P. Hjalmarson
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Optically activated GaAs switches operated in their high-gain mode are being used or tested for pulsed power applications as diverse as low-impedance, high-current firing sets in munitions; high impedance, low-current Pockels cell or Q-switch drivers for lasers; high-voltage drivers for laser diode arrays; high-voltage, high-current, compact accelerators; and pulsers for ground penetrating radar. This paper will describe the properties of high-gain photoconductive semiconductor switches (PCSS), and how they are used in a variety of pulsed power applications. For firing sets, we have switched up to 7 kA in a very compact package. For driving Q switches, the load is the small (30 pF) capacitance of the Q switch which is charged to 6 kV. We have demonstrated that we can modulate a laser beam with a subnanosecond rise time. Using PCSS, we have demonstrated gain switching a series-connected laser diode array, obtaining an optical output with a peak power of 50 kW and a pulse duration of 100 ps. For accelerators, we are using PCSS to switch a 260 kV, 60 kA Blumlein. A pulser suitable for use in ground-penetrating radar has been demonstrated at 100 kV, 1.3 kA. This paper will describe the specific project requirements and switch parameters in all of these applications, and emphasize the switch research and development that is being pursued to address the important issues

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 2 )