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Assignment I

1. Why is a Cockcroft-Walton circuit preferred for voltage multiplier circuits ? Explain its
working with a schematic diagram.
2. What is a Tesla coil? How are damped high frequency oscillations obtained from a Tesla
3. Give the Marx circuit arrangement for multistage impulse generators.
4. Derive the expression for ripple and regulation in voltage multiplier circuits. How are the
ripple and regulation minimized?
5. (a). Explain clearly the basic principle of operation of an electrostatic generator.
(b). Discuss the advantages and limitations of Van de Graaf generator.
6. Explain the different schemes for cascade connection of transformers for producing very
high a.c. voltages.
Van De Graaf Generator Description

Van De Graaff generators are a common sight in many science

laboratories and for many people it is a device that looks like a large metal
ball on a pedestal and can make hair stand on its end literally. However,
there is more to the Van De Graff generators than just deploying static
The Van De Graaff Generator is basically an electrostatic machine that
can generate high voltages. A typical Van De Graaff Generator consists of
an insulating belt that transports electrical charge to a terminal. The
charges that are sent on the belt are generated through a high voltage DC
supply. These charges are collected in the inside of the terminal and
transferred to its external surface.
A Van De Graaff generator can be used to generator high amounts of
potential difference to the order of about 5 Mega Volts. Generally used for

scientific experiments, the generated charges are used to speed particles

such as ions. Let us now take a detailed look into the history, construction
and working of Van De Graaff Generators.

The first Van de Graff Generator was invented by Dr. Robert J Van De
Graff in 1931 in the Unites States of America (USA) for the sole purpose of










experiments. Dr. Robert J Van De Graff, a professor in the reputed

Massachusetts Institute of Technology in USA, designed and built the
world's largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator for use in X-ray

experiments and for research in atom-smashing. Later on, as different

methods to accelerate atoms became available, the original Van De Graaff
generator became used for academic and instructional purposes.
The largest Van De Graff Generator was constructed in an unused
dock in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. It was constructed on railroad
tracks for easier mobility and access. The two colossal domes were
connected via a tube. Each of the two domes had a laboratory where
scientists were able to carry out experiments and study the effects of large
amounts of electricity on particles in the connecting tube.
In the 1950's, MIT generously donated the giant Van De Graaff
generator to the Museum of Science. In 1980, the Van De Graaff generator
was featured in the newly completed Thomson Theatre of Electricity.
Today, the colossal Van De Graaff generator is demonstrated twice or more
times a day to enlighten school students and other academia on the
theories of electricity.

How does a Van De Graff Generator Work?

The Van De Graaff generator works simply on the principle of static
electricity. All matter, as we know is made up of atoms which further
constituted of electrons, neutrons and protons. Electrons carry negative
charge whereas protons are considered to be positively charged. When the
number of electrons and protons remain the same, the matter is
considered to be neutral in charge. A negatively charged matter has more
number of electrons than protons while the opposite holds true for a
positively charged matter. Electrons can flow from one matter to another.
When two materials are rubbed together, a flow of electrons can take
place depending on the triboelectric properties. When such a transfer

occurs, the material that lost electrons will become positively charged and
the one that gained electrons becomes negatively charged. This basically
how static electricity is generated.
A Van de Graaff generator creates static electricity. The current generated
by a Van De Graaff generator remains the same, while the voltage changes
according to the applied load.
A very simple Van De Graaff generator is made of the following:

A motor

Rollers, two in number

Insulated belt

Brush assemblies, two in number

Metal sphere as the output terminal

The motor is required to turn the belt at a constant speed of 1000 to

2000 metres per minute around the two rollers. The potential of the high
voltage electrode above the earth at any instant is V = Q/C where Q is the
charge stored and C is the capacitance of the high voltage electrode to earth.
The potential of the high voltage electrode rises at a rate

dV 1 dQ I
dt C dt C

where I is the net charging current. The lower roller is built of a material that
has a stronger triboelectric property. Now when the motor starts turning the
belt around the lower roller, electrons are captured from the insulated belt onto
the lower roller. Slowly more and more charge becomes concentrated on the
roller. This phenomenon of concentration of charge results in repelling the
electrons from the tips of the brush assembly. It also starts to attract electrons

from the air molecules between the lower roller and brush assembly. Due to
this phenomenon, the positively charged air molecules get carried on the belt
away from the negatively charged roller. The belt therefore gets charged
positively and moves towards the upper rollers.
The upper roller is made from or coated with a material that is higher up
in the triboelectric series such as nylon due to which it tries to repel the
positive charge on the belt. The upper brush is directly connected to the
inside of the output terminal or sphere at one end and almost touches the
upper roller and belt at the other. The electrons in the brush become
attracted to the positive charges on the belt. The air particles break down too
and the free electrons move towards the belt. The sphere takes up all of the
charge and the excess charge gets spread to the outside of the terminal
output or sphere.
It is this simple electrostatic effect that allows the Van De Graaff
generator to output very high voltages continuously.
The charging current for unit surface area of the belt is given by


bv, where b is the breadth of the belt in meters, v is the velocity of the belt
in m/sec, and is the surface charge density in coulombs/m 2. It is found
that is 1.4 x 10 -5 C/m2 to have safe electric field intensity normal to the
surface. With b = 3 m and v = 3 m/sec, the charging current will be
approximately 125A. The generator is normally worked in a high pressure
gaseous medium, the pressure ranging from 5 to 15 atm. The gas may be
nitrogen, air, air-freon (CCl2F2) mixture, or sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Uses of Van De Graff Generators

Van de Graaff generators are useful for very high voltage and low
current applications. The output voltage is easily controlled by controlling

the corona source voltage and the rate of charging. The voltage can be
stabilized to 0.01 %. These are extremely flexible and precise machines for
voltage control.
In modern times, the application of Van De Graff generators is largely
limited to academic purposes to demonstrate the practical aspects and
concepts of electrostatic behavior of particles. Primarily designed as a
particle accelerator, the Van De Graaff generators are used in laboratories
for demonstration purposes only. However, it must be noted that Van de
Graaff generators were one of the first methods used to study nuclear
physics before the advent of better methods to accelerate particles.
Though the use of Van De Graaff generators are limited in today's world,
they mark a very important milestone in the study of particles in the
history of nuclear physics