A pulsed power system converts a low-power, long-time input into a high-power, short-time output.

Serious development of pulsed power systems began with the need to develop state-of-the-art radar systems during World War II, and the development of high energy systems continued to expand after the war.  In 1964 Physics International Company built the first Marx generator that charged a liquid-dielectric transmission line and was switched by liquid spark gaps.  By 1968 the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) had implemented one such system capable of delivering 1 MV at 1 MA.  These early breakthroughs led to more modern developments such as the three iterations of the High Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source (HERMES) and the Z Facility at Sandia National Laboratories.

Many pulsed power systems are built for military applications and output high energy pulses, but with the development of faster, solid state switching components the field has expanded to include the development of lower energy nano- and sub-nanosecond systems that are utilized in a variety of applications, including biomedical, combustion, and agricultural applications.  As high power solid-state switches (i.e. MOSFET, insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT), thyristor, etc.) have matured, design concepts similar to the ones developed in the 1960s, such as the Marx bank and the Blumlein line, have been realized in compact architectures that are laid out on printed circuit boards, which drastically reduced the interconnect parasitics and enabled fast rise-times and shorter pulse widths. 

Today, as exciting new applications of pulsed power are being explored and discovered, Transient Plasma Systems designs and manufactures compact pulsed power systems for research and industry.

References:

  1. Schamiloglu et al, Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol 92 (7) 1014 (2004).

  2. Mankowski, J., Kristiansen, M. "A Review of Short Pulse Generator Technology," IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, vol.28, no.1, pp.102-108 (2000).

  3. Smith, I. "The Early History of Western Pulsed Power." Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on 34(5): 1585-1609 (2006).