Evaluation of explosive emission carbon fiber cathodes
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Most high power microwave sources, such as the Magnetically Insulated Transmission Line Oscillator (MILO) being developed at Texas Tech, utilize cold cathodes that generate electrons via explosive emission. Highly emissive cathodes such as those presented here can generate current densities and currents greater than 200~A/cm^2 and 10 kA, respectively, which are required for devices that can output RF power greater than 100 MW. Typically, these cathodes are made of materials such as metal, silk or synthetic velvet, carbon fiber, and CsI coated carbon fiber. In order to optimize the MILO performance, we fabricated carbon fiber velvet cathodes and compared their performance with other commercially available carbon fiber cathodes. Fabrication was done on a manual, mechanical loom using commercially available carbon fiber thread. Four carbon fiber cathodes were tested: in-house fabricated monomodal carbon fiber velvet, in-house fabricated bimodal carbon fiber velvet, in-house fabricated carbon fiber plain weave cloth, and bimodal carbon fiber velvet manufactured by ESLI Inc. Testing was performed in a vacuum chamber with variable AK gap in the high vacuum range (10^-7 torr). High-speed optical imaging was performed in order to determine the uniformity of the generated plasma as well as the e-beam. Voltage and current measurements were performed to determine cathode performance.Embargo status: Restricted until 06/2172. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.