A Reflex Triode System with Multicavity Adjustment

D. H. Barnett, K. Rainwater, J. C. Dickens, A. A. Neuber, J. J. Mankowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This paper focuses the tunability of a reflex triode virtual cathode oscillator (vircator). The vircator cathode is a bimodal carbon fiber (CF) material, while the anode is polished pyrolytic graphite. These materials have ideal operating characteristics for use within a vircator. These materials have high operating temperatures greater than 1000 K which support large current densities of 200 A/cm 2 . A 12-stage, 158-J pulse-forming network (PFN)-based modular Marx generator is used to drive the vircator at 350 kV, 4 kA with 100-ns pulsewidth at a pulse repetition frequency up to 100 Hz. The 12 stages of the Marx are constructed from a PFN using five, 2.1 nF, high-voltage ceramic capacitors in parallel. The Marx is broken into six modules each containing two stages. The Marx modules are machined from acetyl copolymer commonly called Delrin to provide rigidity and strength. Each Marx module includes air supply lines machined directly into each block, allowing external airlines to connect to each module chamber, rather than every spark gap. After the Marx erects, the energy is used to drive the virtual cathode oscillator (vircator) where subsequent frequency generation is manipulated through a new rectangular waveguide used as the resonant cavity. The new design has three parts of the cavity that can be changed; the bottom plate, back wall, and anode-cathode gap (A-K) distance. Each of these parts moves via linear actuators, two on the bottom plate, one on the A-K gap, and linear bellows for the back wall. The square waveguide cavity is welded into a circular stainless steel sleeve and is housed within a 10-in circular vacuum chamber. The anode is stationary in the vacuum chamber and connects to the Marx generator through a nickel shaft that feeds through the back wall, circular sleeve, and the rectangular waveguide. The anode is pyrolytic graphite, while the cathode is CF. The waveguide bottom plate, back wall, and cathode move around the stationary anode. This allows the height of the resonant cavity and the back wall distance from A-K gap to be independently changed of each other.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8613091
Pages (from-to)1472-1476
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • High-power microwave generation
  • pulse power systems


Dive into the research topics of 'A Reflex Triode System with Multicavity Adjustment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this