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Spectrum, March
2009, pp. 95-101

Gyrotron-Device: New Generation Tubes for High Power at Millimeter Waves

Santanu Karmakar
Microwave Tube Research and Development Center, BEL Complex, Jalahalli, Bangaluru-560 013
New generation microwave vacuum electronic devices, known as Gyro-devices, are explained in details. They fall
under the category of fast wave device. Conventional microwave tubes (slow wave device) operates in the principle
of Cherenkov Radiation. Whereas, this class of devices follow the principle of Bremsstrahlung Radiation. They have
got a distinct advantage over their slow wave counterpart especially at high frequency (millimeter wave and above) that
the device dimension doesnt go down with frequency. Hence the power handling capability at high frequency is much
higher than conventional devices. The various state of the art Gyro-device research activities being pursued worldwide
has been explained in detail. MTRDC has initiated the design of a 35 GHz Gyro-TWT. For that purpose, design codes
have been developed. Using such codes and simulation tools (HFSS, CST Microwave Studio, CST Particle Studio)
various subsystems have been designed, developed and tested. The same has been explained in brief.
Keywords: microwave tubes, gyro-devices, gyrotron, Cherenkov radiation, Bremsstrahlung radiation



In the past thirty years, a new class of microwave tube

has emerged, called Gyro-device, which are based on Cyclotron
Resonance Maser (CRM) instability. This class has the
capability to produce more power at high frequencies than
other microwave tubes. It has been well known since the
mid fifties that there appeared to be a limit to the upper
frequency at which most microwave tubes can be made
to operate with sufficient power and efficiency, primarily
due to reduction in physical size of the RF circuit which
leads to lesser power handling capabilities and difficulty
in physical realization. In conventional slow wave microwave
devices, periodically loaded elements (Slow Wave Structures)
are used for slowing down the electromagnetic wave so
that its phase velocity (vph) becomes similar to the mean
velocity of the electron beam (slow wave interaction: vph
< c). Whereas, in Gyro-devices, the interaction takes place
with a wave whose phase velocity is more than the free
space velocity of light (fast wave interaction, vph > c).
Here, instead of a periodic slow wave structure, the beam
is made periodic by introducing a gyrating motion in the
beam. The periodicity of the beam now makes it possible
to achieve a quasi-synchronism between the RF wave and
the gyration frequency of the beam. Which leads to a RF
Radiation known as Bremsstrahlung Radiation. This sort
of radiation occurs when electrons exhibit some kind of
oscillatory motion in external magnetic or electric fields.
The Doppler-shifted wave frequency ( -kz vz ) is equal
to the frequency of electron oscillations, , or its harmonic:
i.e. -kz vz = s , (where, kz = Axial propagation constant

and, v z = Axial velocity of electron beam). Also, in Gyrodevices azimuthal phase bunching of electrons takes place,
whereas, conventional TWTs undergo an axial phase bunching
of electrons.
Present-day Gyro devices have offered prodigious amounts
of power up-to hundreds of Mega Watts, and very high
efficiency of the order of 30% or more in frequency band
starting from millimeter wave regime to Terra-hertz regime.
Among all gyro devices, the most popular and most
explored member is Gyrotron which finds potential applications
in fusion reactors and material processing industries. The
next most popular member is Gyro-TWT which is most
commonly used for millimeter wave Radar application. GyroKlystron is also a potential contender of Gyro-TWT. There
are other devices, such as Gyro-BWO, Gyro-Twystron,
Cyclotron Autoresonance Maser (CARM) and Slow-Wave
Cyclotron Amplifier (SWCA) which are still in their initial
stage of development.
2.1 Gyro-Monotron (Gyrotron)
In a Gyro-Monotron (Gyrorton), a hollow beam from
a special kind of Electron Gun (Magnetic Injection Gun)
is injected into a region with very strong axial magnetic
field. Flux densities of the order of several Tesla are normally
required and this usually necessitates the use of cryogenic
magnets. The magnetic field (B O) makes the beam gyrate
in a number of small orbits (of radius equal to Larmor
Radius) known as beamlets in a frequency equal to the


Cyclotron frequency ( =

e ). The gyrating beam is


allowed to enter in a RF Cavity region. The magnetic field

is so chosen that the Cyclotron frequency is equal to the
RF frequency of the cavity (fundamental mode) or its harmonic
(harmonic mode). The location of the interaction cavity
with respect to the gun and the magnetic field structure
is shown in the Fig. 1(a).
The shape of the cavity is dependent on the mode
of the electromagnetic field with which the beam is intended
to interact and also the harmonic number of interaction.
The required diffractive quality factor of the cavity is achieved
by proper fine tuning of the cavity shape. Schematic drawings
of few typical Gyrotron cavities are presented in Fig. 1 (c).
Usually, a down tapering is offered to the cavity in the
gun end in order to prevent the RF to travel towards the
Gun. Also an up tapering is offered in the collector end
so that the RF wave can diffract out from the cavity. Photograph
of a typical Gyrotron generating 1 MW of pulsed RF power

than the conventional TWT and also provides a high spectral

quality. In this device, wideband coalescence is achieved
by adjusting the background magnetic field for grazing
point interception i.e. when the beam mode dispersion line
or - plot (straight line) barely touches or grazes the
waveguide-mode dispersion line (hyperbola) i.e. the group
velocity of the wave becomes equal to the axial beam
velocity. Broad-banding of the device is also done by
dispersion shaping of the waveguide by various means
such as metallic disc loading, helical corrugation, dielectric
loading of the waveguide etc. Multi section Gyro-TWT is
also being developed by incorporating sever section to
suppress backward wave. Techniques are also being used
to increase the band width by tapering the waveguide
diameter and magnetic field. This technique however reduces
the gain of the device as effective interaction length at
a specific frequency becomes smaller.
The schematic view of a typical Gyro-TWT is shown
in the Fig. 2(a). In Gyro-TWT, once the azimuthal phase
bunching is achieved, axial phase synchronism is required
between the traveling wave and the phase bunched electron.
Fig 2(b) shows a very high gain (70dB)110 kW W-Band
Gyro-TWT developed at University of new Mexico.



Figure 1. Gyrotron : (a)Schematic Drawing 2(b)1MW 170 GHz
Gyrotron Developed By Japan Atomic Energy Agency
for IETR applications 7 (c) Few Typical Gyrotron

is presented in Fig. 1(b). The reported CW and pulsed

power capabilities of the Gyrotron are three order of magnitude
above those of conventional microwave oscillators.
2.2 Gyro-TWT
Gyro-TWT is a high power amplifier. In this device
instead of cavity, a non-resonant interaction structure such
as waveguide is used. This device has the potential of
amplifying RF powers of one order of magnitude higher

Figure 2. Gyro TWT, (a)Schematic Drawing 2, (b)W-Band,
110kW Gyro-TWT developed at University of New
Mexico .

2.3 Gyro-Klystron
The operation of a Gyro-Klystron, which is again an
amplifier, is similar to that of the conventional Klystron
except that electron bunching occurs in the azimuthal direction
rather than in the axial direction. In Gyro-Klystron, input
RF signal is fed to the 1st cavity (catcher cavity) where
the cyclotron bunching process is initiated. Then, the beam
is permitted to drift. As the beam passes through a second


cavity, the amplified signal may be removed or in case of

multi cavity Gyro-Klystron, the bunching process may be
enhanced and the signal is removed in a subsequent cavity.
A cross sectional view of a two cavity Gyro-Klystron is
shown in Fig. 3. The development of Gyro-Klystron has
not been pursued vigorously, apparently, because of the
greater promise of Gyro-TWTs.

reaction. At FZK, Germany, a Gyrotron has been developed

which offered multimegawatt power at 9 different frequencies.
3.3 Coaxial Gyrotron
In coaxial Gyrotron, a coaxial cavity is being used
as the interaction structure. This kind of Gyrotron has got
many advantages over conventional cavity Gyrotron. Central
conductor reduces the voltage depression and corresponding
degradation of electronic efficiency. Also, by properly tapering
the outer and/or inner conductor radius, the diffractive
quality factor of the desired mode can be enhanced. And
since the start oscillation current is inversely proportional
to the diffractive quality factor, this selective increase in
quality factor helps in reducing the chance of oscillation
to be set in undesired mode. A 170 GHz Gyrotron has been
developed at FZK, Germany, for IETR (International Experimental

Figure 3. Gyro Klystron 2.

Today a vast number of research institutes and industries
are pursuing activities in the field of Gyro-devices worldwide
and are achieving newer heights in terms of output power
and operating frequency. Some of the state of art development
in the field of Gyrotron and Gyro-TWT are presented below:
3.1 Large orbit Gyrotron
For large orbit Gyrotron (Fig. 4), guiding center radius
of the electron beam is equal to the Larmor radius of the
gyrating electron. Hence all the electrons have waveguide
axis encircling orbits. Large orbit Gyrotron has got a distinct
advantage of the ability to operate at a very high Cyclotron
harmonic number (s >15) reducing the required background
magnetic field by many factors. Large orbit Gyrotron has
been reported to deliver peak power of 600 MW at twentieth
Cyclotron harmonic.

Figure 5. Coaxial Gyrotron Cavity developed at FZK Germany

(Schematic Drawing and HFSS Simulation) 9 .

Thermonuclear Reactor) which generates 2 MW of CW

power. Fig. 5 shows a schematic drawing of a typical Coaxial
Gyrotron cavity and its simulation in HFSS.
3.4 Photoic Bandgap Gyrotron
Gyrotrons are usually operated at a mode much higher
than the fundamental mode of the waveguide in order to
increase the interaction volume of the waveguide and hence
to increase the power handling capability. Hence, competition
of the desired mode of interaction with other lower order
modes becomes a crucial issue to be sorted out. Potonic
Bandgap (PBG) Resonator is a very promising answer to
the above issue (Fig. 6). Photonic Bandgap Resonator is
made of a triangular lattice of metal rods which has a band
gap for TE-modes at the design frequency. A cavity is
formed by removing the innermost rods to create a lattice
defect whose size matches that of a conventional cylindrical
resonator at same frequency in the desired mode of interaction.
So, only the desired mode is confined by the lattice whereas
all the competing modes leak through the lattice which

Figure 4. Large Orbit Gyrotron 3.

3.2 Multi Frequency Gyrotron

An oscillator generating RF power simultaneously at
two frequencies (multimoding) is usually considered as an
undesired phenomenon as this makes the oscillator unstable.
But in case of Multi Frequency Gyrotron, this is a desired
phenomenon, where the Gyrotron offers stable oscillation
and stable RF power simultaneously at a number of frequencies
(which are not harmonic). This kind of Gyrotron is very
useful for controlling the instability of plasma in Thermonuclear

Figure 6. Photonic Band-gap Cavity and its simulation in




appears transparent at other frequencies.

MIT has carried out extensive research in this field
and has developed a 140 GHz Gyrotron operating at TE041
mode with beam voltage of 67 kV beam current of 5.1 Amp,
magnetic field of 5.4 Tesla. This device has offered 25 kW
power with 40% Band Width.
3.5 Confocal Gyrotron/Gyro-TWT
Gyro devices are usually operated at a very high order
waveguide modes to increase the interaction volume for
maintaining the thermal load below 1kW/cm2. Hence, mode
competition with undesired lower order mode is a critical
problem in all Gyro-devices. A confocal resonator with
open sidewall (fig 7) offers mode population p times more
sparse than that in a conventional cylindrical resonator.
Hence it offers better mode selectivity. The aperture of the
mirrors are usually chosen to cause additional diffractive
losses on the lower order modes and improve mode selectivity.
In case of Gyro-TWT, the confocal mirror helps in the
excitation of the desired higher order mode.

Figure 7. Confocal Mirror Cavity and its simulation in HFSS

Confocal mirror Gyrotron has been developed at MIT

at 136 GHz which delivers 83 kW of peak power with 18%
efficiency. They have used an azimuthally asymmetric electron
beam. They also have developed a 141 GHz Gyro-TWT
with confocal mirror waveguide interaction structure which
uses HE06 mode as the desired mode of interaction. This
Gyro-TWT offers 122kW of pulsed power with the gain
of 38 dB , efficiency of 27.5% and band width of 2.9 %.
A 280 GHz TE06 mode Gyrotron has also been developed
by them.

This kind of Gyrotron is most suitable for Plasma

heating applications in fusion reactors where the output
RF is taken out in the form of a Gaussian beam. In this
configuration output RF is taken out transverse to the
beam axis with the help of two mirror arrangement. This
device shows frequency tunability of its output RF signal
by adjusting the spacing between the two mirrors.
3.7 Very Low Voltage Gyrotron
Researchers in MIT has developed a very low voltage,
low power, high efficiency tunable Gyrotron at 233 GHz.
The low-voltage operating mode provides a path to further
miniaturization of the Gyrotron through reduction in the
size of the electron gun, power supply, collector, and cooling
system, which will benefit industrial and scientific applications
requiring portability. The interaction mode in the cavity
is TE2,3,1 mode. During CW operation with 3.5-kV beam
voltage and 50-mA beam current, the Gyrotron generates
12 W of RF power at 233.2 GHz.
3.8 Harmonic Multiplying Gyro-TWT
Harmonic multiplying Gyro-TWTs are the device where
output RF is the harmonic of the input RF signal. This
device helps in using relatively inexpensive, low frequency
driving sources as input RF source for the device. Fig. 9
shows the schematic diagram of a typical Harmonic multiplying
Gyro-TWT, where input is fed at X band and the output
is obtained at Ka band. Most of works were done for the
use of Ka-band centered at 35 GHz. At University of Maryland,
USA 100 kW Ka band harmonic multiplying Gyro-TWT has
been developed. At W-band, UCD (University of California,
Davis, USA) succeeded to produce amplified power at 95
GHz. The theoretically obtained parameters for the frequency

3.6 Quasi-Optical Gyrotron/ Gyro-TWT

Another very popular Gyro-device configuration is
the Quasi-Optical configuration (Fig. 8).

Figure 8. Quasi-optical gyrotron 3.


Figure 9. Schematic of harmonic-multiplying two-stage tapered

gyro-TWT of the University of Maryland and its
simulation results.


doubling Gyro-TWT developed at University of Maryland

is also presented in Fig. 9.
3.9 Coupled Cavity Gyro-TWT
Some researchers in NRL,US, have proposed a GyroTWT which is a combination of conventional CoupledCavity TWT and Gyro-TWT. this device offers much broader
band-width and efficiency compared to normal Gyro-TWT.
This structure comprises a double ridged coupled cavity
interaction circuit. In operation, the gun injects a gyrating
electron beam through a beam tunnel of a side wall of the
coupled cavity. When the electron beam phase is synchronized
with the rf phase of the transverse electric mode in the
coupled cavity circuit, the electron beam is modulated and
amplifies the rf input signal through the electron cyclontron
instability. This structure offers much broader bandwidtht
compared to conventional Gyro-TWT, which is highly useful
in radar, communications and jamming technology.
3.10 Terra-Hertz Gyrotron
Researchers at Plasma Research Center, University
of Tsukuba, and the scientists at University of Fukui, Japan
have developed a Terra-Hertz Gyrotron (Fig 10). The Gyrotron
operates at second harmonics and has experimentally produced
RF signal at 1.010 THz due to TE4,12 cavity mode at the
magnetic field 19.1 T in the resonator. The main magnetic
field coil is a pulse magnet coil protected by ice with
alumina powder, and can generate the magnetic field 20
T or higher in the resonant cavity.

longitudinal wavenumber of an eigenwave for a very broad

frequency band. The use of such a helical waveguide as
an operating section of a Gyro-TWT allows significant
widening of its bandwidth and an increase in the efficiency
at very large velocity spreads of electrons. Researchers
at Institute of Applied Physics at Russia have developed
the linear and non-linear theory of the helical gyro-TWT.
they are developing two TWTs with subrelativistic (80
keV, 20 A) and relativistic (300 keV, 80 A) electron beams.
Some researchers at University of Glasgow are pursuing
activities towards a W-Band helically corrugated GyroTWT. Helical corrugation also reduces sensitivity to electron
velocity spread and offers stability to parasitic self-excitation.
MTRDC has also taken up research activities in the
field of Gyro-devices and has already reached a commendable
milestone. Keeping the futuristic need of millimeter-wave
Radar for Defense applications in mind, the design of a
Gyro-TWT is being initiated at 35 GHz frequency. For this
purpose, the necessary parametric design code and Large
Signal Analysis (LSA) code has been developed. Fig. 11


Figure 10. Terra-hertz gyrotron


3.11 Helicaly Corrugated Gyro-TWT for Ultra

A helical corrugation of the inner surface of an oversized
cylindrical waveguide provides, for certain parameters, an
almost constant value of group velocity and close to zero




is wrapped around a circular waveguide and both are joined

by three coupling slots. The same structure has been simulated
in HFSS (High Frequency Structural Simulator). The simulation
results shows that S21 for all the competing modes are
more than 30dB down the desired mode (TE01).
The interaction structure has been fabricated for cold
test measurement (Fig 13).
Gyro-devices usually require a special kind of Electron
Gun (Magnetic Injection Gun). The design of MIG and its
simulation has been carried out using PIERCE Code (Fig
14a) and the design of magnetic system has been carried
out using ANSYS (Fig. 14b). Catode for MIG has also been
developed in-house. The final integration of MIG is under

Figure 11. Few representative plots of theoretical design of GyroTWT generated by LSA: (a) Snapshots of electrons in
a Larmor Orbit at discrete time instant, (b)Axial phase
bunching plot for each macro electrons and
(c)Theoretical Gain plo t

Figure 13. Fabricated structure.

shows few typical theoretical plots obtained by the LSA

of the proposed Gyro-TWT. As per theoretical design, the
Gyro-TWT is expected to offer 22 kW RF power with 1.8
% band width for a beam voltage of 50kV and beam current
of 3 Amp.
The desired mode of interaction for the proposed GyroTWT was taken as TE01 in cylindrical waveguide. A wraparound kind of mode launcher for the input/output coupler
has been designed (Fig. 12). Here, a rectangular waveguide


Figure 14. Simulation of electro-optic system.


Figure 12. TE01 mode launcher: schematic diagram and computed



Devices has already been proven as one of the most

promising microwave tube at millimeterwave and submillimeterwave frequency. Enormous amount of research
activities are being pursued worldwide by various research
institutes, Universities and Industries. A number of multiinstitutional consortia have been formed in this regard.
In India one such multi institutional consortium is pursuing
research for developing a 42 GHz Gyrotron. There is a
possibility of Gyro-TWT to become a major thrust area
in coming years for Defence Radar applications at mm
Waves. Hence, MTRDC has already initiated its research
activities in this direction.




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