Design and optimization of a compact, repetitive, high-power microwave system

Y. J. Chen, A. A. Neuber, J. Mankowski, J. C. Dickens, M. Kristiansen, R. Gale

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The electrical characteristics and design features of a low inductance, compact, 500 kV, 500 J, 10 Hz repetition rate Marx generator for driving an high-power microwave (HPM) source are discussed. Benefiting from the large energy density of mica capacitors, four mica capacitors were utilized in parallel per stage, keeping the parasitic inductance per stage low. Including the spark-gap switches, a stage inductance of 55 nH was measured, which translates with 100 nF capacitance per stage to ∼18.5 Ω characteristic Marx impedance. Using solely inductors, ∼1 mH each, as charging elements instead of resistors enabled charging the Marx within less than 100 ms with little charging losses. The pulse width of the Marx into a matched resistive load is about 200 ns with 50 ns rise time. Repetitive HPM generation with the Marx directly driving a small virtual cathode oscilator (Vircator) has been verified. The Marx is fitted into a tube with 30 cm diameter and a total length of 0.7 m. We discuss the Marx operation at up to 21 kV charging voltage per stage, with repetition rates of up to 10 Hz in burst mode, primarily into resistive loads. A lumped circuit description of the Marx is also given, closely matching the experimental results. Design and testing of a low cost, all-metal Vircator cathode will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104703
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2005


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