Improved transmission-line pulse generators of the vector-inversion type are being developed as lightweight sources of pulsed high voltage for diverse applications, including spacecraft thrusters, portable x-ray imaging systems, impulse radar systems, and corona-discharge systems for sterilizing gases. In this development, more than the customary attention is paid to principles of operation and details of construction so as to the maximize the efficiency of the pulse-generation process while minimizing the sizes of components. An important element of this approach is segmenting a pulse generator in such a manner that the electric field in each segment is always below the threshold for electrical breakdown. One design of particular interest, a complete description of which was not available at the time of writing this article, involves two parallel-plate transmission lines that are wound on a mandrel, share a common conductor, and are switched in such a manner that the pulse generator is divided into a "fast" and a "slow" section. A major innovation in this design is the addition of ferrite to the "slow" section to reduce the size of the mandrel needed for a given efficiency.

This work was done by M. Franklin Rose of Radiance Technologies, Inc., for Marshall Space Flight Center. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at under the Electronics/Computers category. MFS-31870