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Microwave Tubes

Used for high power/high frequency

Tubes generate and amplify high
levels of microwave power more
cheaply than solid state devices
Conventional tubes can be modified
for low capacitance but specialized
microwave tubes are also used

Crossed-Field and Linear-Beam

Magnetron is one of a number of
crossed-field tubes
Magnetic and electric fields are at right

Klystrons and Traveling-Wave tubes

are examples of linear-beam tubes
These have a focused electron beam (as
in a CRT)

Vacuum Tubes
An electronic device in which electrons flow
through vacuum is called vacuum tubes.
A vacuum tube consists of a evacuated
glass envelope which contains a cathode,
an anode and one or more electrodes called
Diode, triode, tetrode, pentode

Vacuum Tubes

Features of Vacuum Tubes

Vacuum tubes are voltage controlled
These can operate at very high
High power can be easily developed
by vacuum tubes.
According to the number of
electrodes, vacuum tubes can be
classified as
(i) Vacuum diode

(iii) Vacuum Tetrode

(iv) Vacuum Pentode
Conventional tubes such as triodes,
tetrodes and pentodes are useful
only at low microwave frequencies.
These tubes cannot operate at high
frequencies due to their limitations at
those frequencies.

High Frequency Limitations of

Conventional Tubes
The conventional tubes become less
effective at microwave frequency
range when these are used as an
amplifier and oscillator. The
limitations of conventional tubes at
high frequencies is due to :
(a) Inter-electrode capacitance
(b) Lead Inductance effect
(c) Transit Time effect

Inter-electrode Capacitance

The capacitance exists when two pieces

of metal are separated by a dielectric.
Vacuum has a dielectric constant of 1.
The elements of the triode are made up
of metal and are separated by dielectric
material .
So there must exist capacitance
between them. This capacitance is
called interelectrode capacitance

Inter-electrode Capacitance

Lead Inductance Effect

The common lead inductance is the
inductance associated with the
common connection of vacuum
This effect is more when the
frequency of the signal is high.
As the frequency increases, the
inductive reactance increases and
due to high inductive reactance there
is an input matching problem

The lead inductance affects the

performance of vacuum triode with
most of input voltage lost across
inductance and only small fraction of
input reach to terminal for
These inductances form unwanted
tuned circuit with the capacitance
and parasitic oscillations are
produced. As frequency increases,

Effect of Transit Time

The time taken by an electron to travel from
cathode to anode is called transit time.
At low frequencies, the transit time is very
small i.e. the electrons reach
instantaneously the anode plate from
At high frequencies, the transit time
becomes large because the source driving
the grid becomes loaded and the gain of
the vacuum tube becomes less than unity.

Effect of Transit Time

This loading is due to the dissipation

of the power at the grid. The effect of
loading is such that the noise in the
circuit increases.
To minimize this effect, the distance
between the electrodes is to be
reduced and high voltage must be
This will increase the interelectrode

Used in high-power amplifiers
Electron beam moves down tube
past several cavities.
Input cavity is the buncher, output
cavity is the catcher.
Buncher modulates the velocity of
the electron beam

Klystron Tubes
Klystron tube is a vacuum tube that
can be operated either as an
oscillator or as an amplifier at
microwave frequencies. Two basic
configurations of klystron tubes are :
1. Multicavity klystron which is used
as a low
power microwave amplifier.
2. Reflex klystron which is used as a
low power microwave oscillator.

Klystron Tubes

Two cavity Klystron


As power output tubes
1. in UHF TV transmitters
2. in troposphere scatter transmitters
3. satellite communication ground station
4. radar transmitters
As power oscillator (5 50 GHz), if
used as a klystron oscillator

Reflex Klystron oscillator

A reflex klystron consists of an electron gun, a

cavity with a pair of grids and a repeller plate
as shown in the above diagram.
In this klystron, a single pair of grids does the
functions of both the buncher and the catcher
The main difference between two cavity reflex
klystron amplifier and reflex klystron is that
the output cavity is omitted in reflex klystron
and the repeller or reflector electrode, placed a
very short distance from the single cavity,
replaces the collector electrode.

Working of reflex klystron

The cathode emits electrons which are accelerated
forward by an accelerating grid with a positive
voltage on it and focused into a narrow beam.
The electrons pass through the cavity and undergo
velocity modulation, which produces electron
bunching and the beam is repelled back by a
repeller plate kept at a negative potential with
respect to the cathode.
On return, the electron beam once again enters the
same grids which act as a buncher, their by same
grids acts simultaneously as a buncher for the
forward moving electron and as a catcher for the
returning beam

The feedback necessary for electrical oscillations is

developed by reflecting the electron beam, the
velocity modulated electron beam does not actually
reach the repeller plate, but is repelled back by the
negative voltage.
Thus the repeller voltage is so adjusted that complete
bunching of the electrons takes place at the catcher
grids, the distance between the repeller and the cavity
is chosen such that the repeller electron bunches will
reach the cavity at proper time to be in
Due to this, they deliver energy to the cavity, the
result is the oscillation at the cavity producing RF

The reflex klystrons are used in
1. Radar receivers
2. Local oscillator in microwave
3. Signal source in microwave
generator of variable frequency
4. Portable microwave links
5. Pump oscillator in parametric

Traveling Wave Tube (TWT)

TWT is an amplifier that makes use of
distributed interaction between electron beam
and a travelling wave.
It is mainly used for amplification of high
frequencies. i.e. 3000 MHz or above.
Its principle feature is based on a slow wave
structure. the RF wave propagate at the speed
of light, while electron beam propagate at
much slow velocity. Therefore the mechanism
that reduces RF wave phase velocity in a TWT
is a slow wave structure

The basic structure of a TWT consists of a cathode

and filament heater plus an anode that is biased
positively to accelerate the electron beam forward
and to focus it into a narrow beam.
The electrons are attracted by a positive plate
called the collector, which has given a high dc
The length of the tube is usually many
wavelengths at the operating frequency.
Surrounding the tube are either permanent
magnets or electromagnets that keep the
electrons tightly focused into a narrow beam.

Basic structure of a Traveling

Wave Tube (TWT)

The unique feature of the TWT is a helix or coil that
surrounds the length of the tube and the electron
beam passes through the centre or axis of the
The microwave signal to be amplified is applied to
the end of the helix near the cathode and the
output is taken from the end of the helix near the
The purpose of the helix is to provide path for RF
The propagation of the RF signal along the helix is
made approximately equal to the velocity of the
electron beam from the cathode to the collector

The passage of the microwave signal down the
helix produces electric and magnetic fields that
will interact with the electron beam.
The electromagnetic field produced by the helix
causes the electrons to be speeded up and
slowed down, this produces velocity modulation
of the beam which produces density modulation.
Density modulation causes bunches of electrons
to group together one wavelength apart and.
these bunch of electrons travel down the length
of the tube toward the collector.

The electron bunches induce voltages into
the helix which reinforce the voltage
already present there. Due to that the
strength of the electromagnetic field on
the helix increases as the wave travels
down the tube towards the collector.
At the end of the helix, the signal is
considerably amplified. Coaxial cable or
waveguide structures are used to extract
the energy from the helix.

1. Frequency of operation : 0.5 GHz
95 GHz
2. Power outputs:
5 mW (10 40 GHz low power
250 kW (CW) at 3 GHz (high
power TWT)
10 MW (pulsed) at 3 GHz
Efficiency : 5 20 % ( 30 % with

Application of TWT
1. Low noise RF amplifier in broad band
microwave receivers.
2. Repeater amplifier in wide band communication
links and long distance telephony.
3. Due to long tube life (50,000 hours against th
for other types), TWT is power output tube in
communication satellite.
4. Continuous wave high power TWTs are used in
tropo scatter links (due to larger power and
larger bandwidths).
5. Used in Air borne and ship borne pulsed high
power radars.

M-type tubes
High-power oscillator
Common in radar and microwave
Cathode in center, anode around
Strong dc magnetic field around tube
causes electrons from cathode to
spiral as they move toward anode
Current of electrons generates
microwaves in cavities around

Slow-Wave Structure
Magnetron has cavities all around the
Wave circulates from one cavity to
the next around the outside
Each cavity represents one-half
Wave moves around tube at a
velocity much less than that of light
Wave velocity approximately equals
electron velocity

Duty Cycle
Important for pulsed tubes like radar
Peak power can be much greater
than average power