Design criteria for high performance, high power pseudospark switches

K. Frank, Ch Bickes, U. Ernst, M. Iberler, A. Rainer, J. Schwab, J. Urban, W. Weisser, V. Bochkov, O. B. Frants, Yu D. Korolev, I. A. Shemyakin

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Since more than a decade the development of high power pseudospark switches is subject of research and technology at the Physics Department. The main objective is to replace commercial switching devices like ignitrons (because of the mercury filling) and high-pressure spark gaps (because of limited lifetime). The principle of function is similar to that of a cold-cathode thyratron. That is why one finds sometimes such devices in literature with this term. The basic mechanisms facilitate fundamentally a simple construction, for instance there is no need for a hot cathode (thyratron type) or a specific trigger method (ignitor). On the other hand one gets undesired phenomena by the physics of cold cathode emission at low peak currents (less than 2 kA), like quenching, chopping and impedance fluctuations. At very high peak currents (more than 50 kA) transition to a metal vapor arc occurs with correlated high cathode erosion by cathode spot formation. With molybdenum as electrode material beyond 45 kA additionally anode spot formation contributes considerably to electrode erosion. Below 45 kA erosion rate amounts typically to 10 μg/C and jumps by one magnitude up to 100 μg/C and more with anode spot formation. A quite early used method to avoid this was to change from one-channel to multichannel configurations; abother possibility, recently discovered, is to use Silicon-carbide (SiC) as durable electrode material. Experiments over a wide range of discharge currents demonstrate that arc formation is suppressed. As consequence the power input per square unit is reduced. During the past two years strong emphasis was put on the solution of technological problems by optimization of design parameters. In parallel two-gap switch configurations are under development to achieve reliable hold-off voltage capability up to 40 kV. This paper summarizes the most important results of fundamental research as well as of technological progress.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationDigest of Technical Papers-IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference
    Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ, United States
    Number of pages4
    Publication statusPublished - 1999
    Event12th IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference - Monterey, CA, USA
    Duration: 27 Jun 199930 Jun 1999


    Other12th IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference
    CityMonterey, CA, USA

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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