A special-purpose high-voltage power supply can be electronically switched on and off with fast rise and fall times, respectively. The output potential is programmable from 20 to 1,250 V. An output current of 50 μA can be sustained at 1,250 V. The power supply was designed specifically for electronically shuttering a microchannel plate in an x-ray detector that must operate with exposure times as short as 1 ms. The basic design of the power supply is also adaptable to other applications in which there are requirements for rapid slewing of high voltages.

This Power-Supply Circuit features a rise time of 80 μs and a fall time of 60 μs.

The power-supply circuitry (see figure) includes a preregulator, which is used to program the output at 1/30 of the desired output potential. After the desired voltage has been set, the outputs of a pulse width modulator (PWM) are enabled and used to amplify the preregulator output potential by 30. The amplification is achieved by use of two voltage doublers with a transformer that has two primary and two secondary windings. A resistor is used to limit the current by controlling the drive voltage of two field-effect transistors (FETs) during turn-on of the PWM. A pulse transformer is used to turn on four FETs to short-circuit four output capacitors when the outputs of the PWM have been disabled. The most notable aspects of the performance of the power supply are a rise time of only 80 μs and a fall time of only 60 μs at a load current of 50 μA or less. Another notable aspect is that the application of a 0-to-5-V square wave to a shutdown pin of the PWM causes the production of a 0-to-1,250-V square wave at the output terminals.

This work was done by Douglas B. Bearden, Richard M. Acker, and Robert E. Kapustka of Marshall Space Flight Center. For further information, contact Sammy Nabors, MSFC Commercialization Assistance Lead, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to MFS-31912-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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