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Home » New Generation Travelling Wave Tubes


INDUSTRY NEWS

New Generation Travelling Wave Tubes


May 15, 2008

e2v technologies (UK) Ltd.

One Comment

Building on its strong background in the development and production of


Helix travelling wave tubes (TWT) for military airborne applications, e2v has
developed a ‘new generation’ of TWTs that expands upon established airborne
decoy applications and anticipates future system requirements. Over the past
20 years the company has manufactured broadband mini-TWTs (6 kV operating
voltage) for use in airborne towed decoy systems. In the late 1990s, it
developed a mini-TWT (4.5 kV operating voltage) for use in airborne towed
decoy systems, which addressed major European and US military programs.

The standard mini-TWT range was based upon e2v’s original broadband (4.5 to
18 GHz), 100 W, 4.5 kV device, designed primarily for high altitude (70,000 ft)
and high temperature operation (> 140°C measured at TWT base plate). The
new range of tubes also introduces custom narrow-band mini-TWTs, the goal
being to supply a range of devices to meet future applications, including
Electronic Counter Measures (ECM), Electronic Warfare (EW), Microwave
Power Modules (MPM), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and microwave data
links. Building upon present-day rugged and proven technology, these new
tubes offer enhanced output power, frequency range and efficiency.

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New Generation Mini-TWTs

Design modeling of key areas of the TWT, coupled with rapid prototyping has
seen a new family of mini-TWT tubes evolve, using the standard mini-TWT as
the host design vehicle. The result is three new mini-TWT ranges:

• The N20173 6 to 18 GHz TWT range, achieving a minimum 100 W

• The N20160 4.5 to 18 GHz TWT range, 140 W typical

• The N20154 13.75 to 14.5 GHz (Ku-band) TWT range, achieving a minimum
120 W

Key performance data, attributes and operating parameters for these three new
devices are covered in this article.

The N20173

Current standard mini-TWTs typically operate over this 6 to 18 GHz bandwidth,


but fall short of output power in the upper frequency range. The design driver for
the N20173 (shown in Figure 1) was to increase the efficiency of the new
device at higher frequencies without degrading performance at the lower end of
the operating band. This was achieved by the use of a Slow Wave Structure
(SWS) with a novel phase velocity taper.

Consequently, the new N20173 tube achieves >100 W over the full operating
frequency band and the new RF structure reduces the second-harmonic output
to < –9 dBc at 6 GHz. Figure 2 shows the power to frequency performance of
the N20173 compared to e2v’s standard mini-TWT.

Also, an optimized coaxial TNC output achieves better than 2.2:1 VSWR and
variants within the range include two- and three-stage collectors and a focus
electrode switched option for pulsed or CW operation. The N20173 maintains
the compact design of the standard e2v mini-TWT, being 220 mm long, 27 mm
wide and 29 mm high, with a mass of less than 320 g. It can operate at base
plate temperatures up to 140°C and altitudes up to 70,000 ft, under severe
shock and vibration levels.

The N20160

There has recently been increasing demand for higher-powered mini-TWTs


capable of operation over the extended 4.5 to 18 GHz bandwidth. Thus, the
N20160 device (shown in Figure 3) has been designed as a drop-in
replacement for the standard mini-TWT, capable of operation at the same
voltages and maintaining the same space envelope.

The increased performance has been achieved through a combination of


efficiency enhancement, the utilization of velocity tapers in the slow wave
structure and increased beam current. The N20160 device also offers a
minimum of 140 W between 6 and 13 GHz, more than 100 W at 18 GHz and
more than 50 W at 4.5 GHz. The maximum RF drive required for saturation is
22 dBm, and the small-signal gain achieved mid-band is 59 dB.

With optimization of the slow wave structure it has been possible to enhance
the second-harmonic performance, which is a dominant characteristic of multi-
octave devices. The device typically achieves second-harmonic levels of 1 dBc
at 4.5 GHz and –10 dBc at 6 GHz. Figure 4 shows the power versus frequency
performance of the N20160 compared to e2v’s standard mini-TWT.

Pre-production N20160 models have been tested using both dual- and three-
stage collectors, achieving prime powers of less than 460 W. This increased
performance has been achieved while maintaining compact size and weight—
220 mm long, 27 mm wide and 29 mm high, with a mass of 320 g.

The N20154

The N20154 mini-TWT (shown in Figure 5) has been developed to satisfy the
ever-increasing demand for low-cost, lightweight, high-efficiency, compact
TWTs for communication and data link applications. The mini-TWT’s design
moves away from broadband convention and is optimized specifically for
operation over the narrow communications band. This gives the advantage over
broadband devices of improved linearity and gain flatness.
The RF circuit has been optimized around a negative velocity taper in order to
achieve high circuit efficiency, combined with a multi-stage collector to realize
an overall tube efficiency of greater than 33 percent. Output power across the
band is 120 W minimum, with a small-signal gain of typically 52 dB. The
linearity parameters are vital to communication tubes; the third-order IP
performance at 4 dB Output Back-Off (OBO) is typically –22 dBc and –28 dBc
at 7 dB OBO.

Other enhancements include optimization of the input and output VSWR to


achieve better than 1.5:1 across the operating band. In order to meet the long
operational life requirements of communications devices, the N20154 cathode
has been designed to operate at less than 1.5 A/cm2 current density. The
packaged N20154 device weighs less than 280 g, is 171 mm long, 30 mm wide
and 25 mm high, making it ideal for microwave power module applications.
Mechanical design of the N20154 shares many component parts and
manufacturing processes with the standard e2v broadband mini-TWTs. This
has resulted in a low-cost, high-reliability product that offers system
manufacturers a serious alternative to solid-state amplifiers. Table 1 shows the
performance characteristics of the new mini-TWT series.

Conclusion

New generation mini-TWTs from e2v address the requirements of proven


rugged design and enhanced RF performance characteristics. The latest three
mini-TWT devices can be customized with dual- or three-stage collectors, SMA
or TNC RF terminations, focus electrode switching and reduced gain power-
booster versions. e2v will also consider bespoke packaging to meet specific
customer requirements.

Looking forward, further design development and enhancement of the TWT


product range continues, with planned efficiency enhancement through
continued collector optimization. Further design targets include increased output
power to 200 W, and the inclusion of a grid switched device. In addition, a
narrow-band mini-TWT is under development, which will offer the (linearity,
flatness) benefits seen in the Ku-band product but at X-band. This will
complement the range and offer a compact lightweight device suitable for
MPMs, radar and SAR applications.

e2v technologies (UK) Ltd., Chelmsford, UK


Chelmsford, UK
+49-89-3548-040
www.e2v.com
enquiries@e2v.com
RS No. 302

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Contemporary Applications
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Bruno engineer
October 30, 2015
It is amazing how technology is able to amaze and always give me the best of
the previous devices thanks to "e2v technologies". This device TWT N20160 is
truly feels and give more 'performance to my devices
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