Most pulsed high-power microwave sources use explosive electron emission cathodes to generate high current electron beams. In the explosive emission process, the current emitted through small field emission points becomes high enough to cause the cathode material to vaporize and form a plasma. Plasma characteristics, such as uniformity and expansion rate, will affect the performance of the microwave source. High-speed optical imaging can be used to resolve some characteristics of the plasma in time. The images of the cathode plasma during the operation of a triode-geometry virtual cathode oscillator high-power microwave source are presented for three different cathode materials.
- Explosive electron emission
- High-power microwaves
- Microwave imaging
- Microwave oscillators
- Virtual cathode oscillator (vircator)