Operation of a sealed-tube-vircator high-power-microwave source

John W. Walter, Curtis F. Lynn, James C. Dickens, Magne Kristiansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The high-power-microwave (HPM) sources currently under development typically require constant pumping to maintain the high vacuum levels required for operation. This pumping is often done with either a cryo- or turbopumping system, either of which would be difficult to deploy in a compact portable system. A compact sealed-tube virtual cathode oscillator (vircator) source has been developed at Texas Tech University (TTU) that does not require a bulky external vacuum pump for operation. This device has a base vacuum pressure in the low 10 -9-torr range compared to the majority of laboratory HPM sources having vacuum levels in the 10 -5 -10 -7-torr range. The reduced amount of trapped gasses in the sealed-tube ultrahigh-vacuum environment has the potential to greatly impact device performance. The TTU sealed-tube vircator is useful as a testbed for studying HPM source optimization under UHV conditions. Measured operational characteristics of the tube utilizing a carbon fiber cathode and a nickel anode are presented, along with radiated microwave measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6179553
Pages (from-to)1618-1621
Number of pages4
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number6 PART 1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Explosive electron emission
  • high-power microwaves (HPMs)
  • perveance
  • vacuum diode
  • virtual cathode oscillator (vircator)


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