An Improved Plasma Opening Switch for DECADE

Period of Performance: 09/23/1997 - 09/23/1999


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

2309 Renard Place SE, Suite 220
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Principal Investigator


The plasma opening switch (POS) is an integral part of the design of the Decade facility. It allows greater voltages and shorter pulse durations to be applied to the load than otherwise would be possible. Ad Decade transitions from the initial design stage to the preplanned product improvement stage, a detailed understanding of the plasma opening switch will provide powerful leverage for meeting ungraded machine performance specifications. While analytic theories and particle-in-cell (PIC) codes have revealed much of the basic nature of switch operations, neither have been able to explain how or to predict which changes in switch design are able to improve switch performance. For example, in a series of experiments on DPM1 (1), a simple change in anode geometry provided dramatic improvements in switch performance. Analytic theories deal predominantly with one-dimensional equilibria, and PIC codes are impracticable at the density levels involved, so that neither have been able to reveal the reason underlying the observed performance improvement. As the simple modification made in these DPM1 experiments is likely to be the archetype for the improvements which will be made to the Decade switch, a tool which provides a predictive capaiblity for such modifications is essential.