Pulsed power technologies

Developing worldwide state-of-the-art innovative solutions to a range of industry challenges

Spanning high-power broadband electromagnetic sources; novel non-invasive high-intensity pulsed electric fields techniques; new eco-friendly synthetic approaches; pulsed underwater ultrasound sources; and various decontamination techniques – the Plasma and Pulsed Power Research Group provides solutions to challenges faced across a range of sectors including agriculture, food, health and medicine, energy and defence.

The main aspect of our work is supporting the development of Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapons (RF-DEWs), used to minimise the impact of armed conflict and terrorist activity. These systems disable enemy electronics, protecting against the threats posed by, for example, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and drone attacks.

Our impact

Innovative solutions to a range of challenges

  • As part of our ongoing partnership with Pau University, we are developing a non-invasive and cost-effective replacement for current pulsed electric field (PEF) cancer treatments.
  • In collaboration with The Welding Institute, we are advancing a new approach for designing the plasma cathodes in electron-beam guns – a tool becoming more widely used in additive manufacturing.
  • We are exploring ways to improving the efficiency of pre-packed food processing, using non-invasive PEF systems, that could reduce energy use – a potential gamechanger for the food industry. Some of this work is jointly researched with Energy Pulse Systems.
  • Our research underpins pulsed power technologies that are contributing to efforts to enhance security.

The research

Our research has provided new insights and understanding of pulsed power technologies, particularly those required to produce the short duration, high-power, high-energy RF pulses pivotal to many RF-DEW concepts.

Among our successes is a patented class of RF-DEW, analogous to artificial lightning. At its core, our technology has an innovative element, based on a novel class of compact high-voltage pulsed transformers using coaxial geometry that delivers high-power impulses of far greater duration than conventional systems.

We have also developed components and subsystems that optimise the size, weight and power of explosively driven RF-DEWs. These include our novel high-voltage trigger switch which provides low characteristic impedance and efficient operation at nanosecond timescales.

In addition, we have created and demonstrated innovative designs for explosively driven pulsed power generators and modified high-power RF circuitry, radically reducing their explosive mass and volume.

These world-class technologies are contributing to efforts to enhance security – making our lives far safer.

Development partners

Our research partners include:

  • Pau University, France
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, USA
  • Energy Pulse Systems, Portugal
  • Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands

Meet the experts

Photograph of Ivor Smith

Professor Ivor Smith

Emeritus Professor