New Magnetron May Help Defeat Enemy Electronics
|Researchers have invented a new type of magnetron that may be used to defeat enemy electronics. Courtesy of University of Michigan and Air Force Research Laboratory
Researchers have invented a new type of magnetron, a type of vacuum tube used as the frequency source in microwave ovens, radar systems and other high-power microwave circuits. According to Ron Gilgenbach, an Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)-sponsored researcher at the University of Michigan, this new class of magnetrons holds the potential for more compact Department of Defense microwave sources with faster start-up, as well as higher peak and average power.
“This invention should make it possible to develop more compact magnetrons that operate at higher power and higher frequencies,” said Gilgenbach. “Higher power magnetrons could be utilized to jam and defeat enemy electronics.”
The magnetron has been vital to military radar systems since World War II. Over time, the basic design of the magnetron has not changed much. However, University of Michigan researchers have revolutionized the design of both conventional and inverted magnetrons by expanding the cathode and anode area into a new type of magnetron, which permits higher current and a larger area for heat dissipation in a more compact device. This research has a significant impact on the Air Force’s radar capabilities. The newly invented magnetron’s higher frequencies have the potential to improve radar resolution. Additionally, the more compact packaging of the new magnetron could encourage airborne applications.
“This invention exploits some plasma physics principles that have been applied to this problem, as well as an innovative, new geometry to overcome the physical limitations of conventional magnetrons,” said Gilgenbach. “The vision is to explore both a high-power version of the magnetron invention and a separate higher frequency (mm wave) embodiment.”