Nanosecond laser-triggered microwave switch

Matthew M. McQuage, Andreas A. Neuber, James C. Dickens

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The design and experimental testing of a laser-triggered microwave switch with a nanosecond activation time is described. The objectives of the project include, confirming that a nanosecond to sub-nanosecond risetime is achievable in the X-band waveguide at 9 GHz with the laser-triggered switch and to determine the minimum laser energy necessary to obtain the fastest possible risetime. A 1 kW pulsed X-band source with a 500 ns output pulse provides the microwave power for the system. A variable power Nd:YAG laser with a maximum 450 mJ at 532 nm, 10 ns FWHM output pulse is used in conjunction with an applied high voltage pulse to trigger the microwave switch. The microwave signal is switched with the rapid formation of plasma caused by the breakdown of a gas contained by a quartz tube inserted through a section of waveguide. The centerpiece of the waveguide system is a magic tee, which controls the direction of power flow through the system. Compared to tests in air and N 2, the best results have been obtained in Argon. Risetimes below 2 ns have been obtained using Argon at a reduced pressure of 150 Torr and a high voltage pulse of 28 kV from a spark gap. The impact of gas pressure, applied voltage pulse and applied laser pulse on the risetime of the microwave switch are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2003
Event14th IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference - Dallas, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2003Jun 18 2003


Conference14th IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDallas, TX


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