Directed energy innovation takes aim at defence and biomedicine

A directed energy innovation developed at Purdue University could bring benefits to the fields of biomedicine and defence. 

directed energy
An invention from Purdue University innovators may provide a new option to use directed energy for biomedical and defence applications (Purdue)

The Purdue invention is said to use composite based non-linear transmission lines (NLTLs) for a complete high-power microwave system, eliminating the need for multiple auxiliary systems. According to Purdue, interest in NLTLs has increased because they offer an effective solid-state alternative to conventional vacuum-based, high-power microwave generators that require large and expensive external systems. These include cryogenic electromagnets and high-voltage nanosecond pulse generators.

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NLTLs have proven effective for applications in the defence where they create directed high-power microwaves that can be used to disrupt or destroy electronic equipment at a distance. In the biomedical field the same technology can be used for sterilisation and non-invasive medical treatments.

“We created a new NLTL device that reduces the bulkiness of current options and offers new opportunities to protect our country and help patients in a man-portable form factor,” said Andrew Fairbanks, a Ph.D. student and graduate research assistant in Purdue’s College of Engineering. “In engineering, we are concerned about size, weight, power and cost. Our invention helps address all of these.”

Allen Garner, an associate professor of nuclear engineering, led the Purdue team that created a novel device using composite-based NLTLs as complete high-power microwave systems, encompassing high-voltage pulse and high-power microwave formation. The Purdue device combines the elements of traditional NLTLs into a composite-based system and eliminates typical bulky auxiliary equipment.

The system is charged using a DC high-voltage supply and discharged using a high-voltage, gas-based switch. It also eliminates the need for external pulse generation and is more rugged due to solid-state construction.

Fairbanks presented the Purdue technology in March, 2021 at theDirected Energy Professional Society annual Science and Technology Symposium.