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Microwave Generators


The efficiency of conventional tubes is largely independent of frequency up to a certain limit. When frequency increases beyond that limit, several factors combine to rapidly decrease tube efficiency. Tubes that are efficient in the microwave range usually operate on the theory of VELOCITY MODULATION, a concept that avoids the problems encountered in conventional tubes.

Limitations of Conventional Tubes

Three characteristics of ordinary vacuum tubes increasingly important as frequency rises.
Inter electrode capacitance, lead inductance, and electron transit time.

Higher the frequency, or the larger the interelectrode capacitance, the higher will be the current through this capacitance (i=c dv/dt). The inter-electrode capacitance between the grid and the cathode (Cgk) in parallel with the signal source. As the frequency of the input signal increases, the effective grid-to-cathode impedance of the tube decreases because of a decrease in the reactance of the inter-electrode capacitance. If the signal frequency is 100megahertz or greater, the reactance of the grid-to-cathode capacitance is so small that much of the signal is short-circuited within the tube.

The lead inductances within a tube are effectively in parallel with the inter-electrode capacitance, the net effect is to raise the frequency limit. However, the inductance of the cathode lead is common to both the grid and plate circuits. This provides a path for degenerative feedback which reduces overall circuit efficiency.

INTRODUCTION TRANSIT TIME is basically time taken for movement or transition of electron from one electrode to another. And the effect which is caused due to transit time is known as TRANSIT TIME EFFECT.

TRANSIT TIME EFFECT ON TUBES AT VARIOUS FREQUENCIES Some small amount of transit time is required for electrons to travel from the cathode to the plate, the time is insignificant at low frequencies. However, at high frequencies, transit time becomes an appreciable portion of a signal cycle andbegins to hinder efficiency.

Transit times in excess of 0.1 cycle cause a significant decrease in tube efficiency. This decrease in efficiency is caused, in part, by a phase shift between plate current and grid voltage. If the tube is to operate efficiently, the plate current must be in phase with the grid-signal voltage and180 degrees out of phase with the plate voltage. When transit time approaches 1/4 cycle, this phase relationship between the elements does not hold true. A positive swing of a high-frequency grid signal causes electrons to leave the cathode and flow to the plate. Initially this current is in phase with the grid voltage. However, since transit time is an appreciable part of a cycle, the current arriving at the plate now lags the grid-signal voltage. As a result, the power output of the tube decreases and the plate power dissipation increases.

Reducing Transit Time Effect

Transit time may be decreased by reducing the spacing between electrodes. Or by increasing the electrode voltages which in turn increases electron velocity through the tube.

Two cavity and multi-cavity klystron

Klystron Amplifier
Klystron amplifiers are high power microwave vacuum tubes. They are used in some coherent radar transmitters as power amplifiers. Klystrons make use of the transit-time effect by varying the velocity of an electron beam. A klystron uses special resonant cavities which modulate the electric field around the axis of the tube modulating the electric field around the axis the tube. In the middle of these cavities, there is a grid allowing the electrons to pass the cavity.

All electrons injected from cathods arrive at first cavity with uniform velocity. Those electrons passing through first cavity gap at 0s of the gap voltage for a signal voltage passed through with unchanged velocity. Those passing through the +ve half cycle of the gap voltage undergo increasing velocity and those passing through the ve voltage undergo decreasing velocity. As a result, the electrons gradually bunch together as they travel down the drift space.

Due to the number of the resonant cavities klystrons are divided up into Two- or Multicavity klystrons, and Reflex or Repeller Klystrons.

Two-Cavity Klystron

Two-Cavity Klystron
This klystron uses two resonating cavities. The first cavity together with the first coupling device is called a buncher, while the second cavity with its coupling device is called a catcher.

The function of the catcher cavity is to absorb energy from the electron beam. The catcher grids are placed along the beam at a point where the bunches are fully formed. The location is determined by the transit time of the bunches at the natural resonant frequency of the cavities (the resonant frequency of the catcher cavity is the same as the buncher cavity). The air-cooled collector collect the energy of the electron beam and change it into heat and X radiation. Klystron amplification, power output, and efficiency can be greatly improved by the addition of intermediate cavities between the input and output cavities of the basic klystron.

The two-cavity amplifier klystron is readily turned into an oscillator klystron by providing a feedback loop between the input and output cavities. It has the advantage of being among the lowestnoise microwave sources available. It normally generates more power than the reflex klystrontypically watts of output rather than milliwatts. Since there is no reflector, only one high-voltage supply is necessary to cause the tube to oscillate, the voltage must be adjusted to a particular value.

This is because the electron beam must produce the bunched electrons in the second cavity in order to generate output power. Voltage must be adjusted to vary the velocity of the electron beam (and thus the frequency) to a suitable level due to the fixed physical separation between the two cavities. Often several "modes" of oscillation can be observed in a given klystron.

Reflex Klystron

Fig: Reflex Klystron

The reflex klystron contains a REFLECTOR PLATE, referred to as the REPELLER, instead of the output cavity used in other types of klystrons. The electron beam is modulated as it was in the other types of klystrons by passing it through an oscillating resonant cavity, but here the similarity ends. The feedback required to maintain oscillations within the cavity is obtained by reversing the beam and sending it back through the cavity. The electrons in the beam are velocity-modulated before the beam passes through the cavity the second time and will give up the energy required to maintain oscillations. The electron beam is turned around by a negatively charged electrode (repeller) that repels the beam.

Three power sources are required for reflex klystron operation:

filament power, positive resonator voltage (often referred to as beam voltage) used to accelerate the electrons through the grid gap of the resonant cavity, and negative repeller voltage used to turn the electron beam around.

Travelling Wave Tube

Cutaway view of a HELIX TWT

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Electron Gun RF input Magnets Attenuator Helix Coil RF Output Vacuum tube Collector

Electron Gun: produces and then accelerates an electron beam along the axis of the tube. The surrounding static magnet provides a magnetic field along the axis of the tube to focus the electrons into a tight beam. A longitudinal helix slow wave non-resonant guide is placed at the centre of the tube that provides a low impedance transmission line for the RF energy within the tube.

The TWT is designed with helix delay structure to slow the travelling wave down to or below the speed to the electrons in the beam. The RF signal wave injected at the input end of the helix travels down the helix wire at the speed of the light but the coiled shape causes the wave to travel a much greater distance than the electron beam.

Changing the number of turns or diameter of the turns in the helix wire, the speed at which RF signal wave travels in the form of axial E field, can be varied. The helical delay structure has the added advantage of causing a large proportion of electric fields that are parallel to the electron beam, provides maximum interaction between the fields and the moving electrons to form bunching.

Velocity modulation
The electrons entering the helix at zero field are not affected by the signal wave; those electrons entering the helix at the accelerating field are accelerated, and those at the retarding field are deccelerated. This velocity modulation causes bunching of electrons at regular intervals of one wavelength.

As the bunches release energy to the signal on the helix, amplification begins. This amplified signal causes a denser electron bunch which in turn amplifies the signal even more. This process continues as the RF wave and the electron beam travel down the length of the tube. When the loss in the system is compensated by this energy transfer, a steady amplification of the microwave signal appears at the output end.

Why attenuator?
An attenuator is placed over a part of the helix on midway to attenuate any reflected waves generated due to the impedance mismatch. It is placed after sufficient length of the interaction region so that the attenuation of the amplified signal is insignificant compared to the amplification.

Comparison of TWTA and Klystron Amplifier Klystron Amplifier TWTA 1. Linear beam or 1. Linear beam or O O type Device type device 2. Uses Resonant cavities 2. Uses non resonant for input and output wave circuits circuits 3. Narrowband device 3.Wideband device


Medium power satellite Higher power satellite transponder output.

Magnetron/ Cross Field Amplifier

Inherently efficient Delivers large powers (up to GW pulsed power and MW cw) Limited electronic tuning, i.e., BW limited Low cost Industrial uses
microwave ovens industrial heating drying wood processing and bonding materials

Circular Magnetron
(conventional geometry)
Electrons tend to move parallel to the cathode. After a few periods in the cylindrical geometry the electron cloud so formed is known as the Brillouin cloud. A ring forms around the cathode.

Circular Magnetron Oscillator

Each cavity in the anode acts as an inductor having only one turn and the slot connecting the cavity and the interaction space acts as a capacitor. These two form a parallel resonant circuit and its resonant frequency depends on the value of L of the cavity and the C of the slot. The frequency of the microwaves generated by the magnetron oscillator depends on the frequency of the RF oscillations existing in the resonant cavities.

If the magnetic field strength is increased slightly, the lateral force bending the path of the electron as given by the path b in Fig iii. If the strength of the magnetic field is made sufficiently high then the electrons can be prevented from reaching the anode as indicated path c in Fig iii, The magnetic field required to return electrons back to the cathode just grazing the surface of the anode is called the critical magnetic field (Bc) or the cut off magnetic field. If the magnetic field is larger than the critical field (B > Bc), the electron experiences a greater rotational force and may return back to the cathode quite faster.

Electron trajectories in the presence of crossed electric and magnetic fields

(a) no magnetic field (b) small magnetic field (c) Magnetic field = Bc (d) Excessive magnetic field

Fig (iii)

1. Pulsed radar is the single most important application with large pulse powers. 2. Voltage tunable magnetrons are used in sweep oscillators in telemetry and in missile applications. 3. Fixed frequency, CW magnetrons are used for industrial heating and microwave ovens.