microwave oscillator that operates differently from the linear-beam tubes, such as the twt and the klystron. View (B)is a simplified drawing of the magnetron. CROSSED-ELECTRON and MAGNETIC fields are used in the magnetron to produce the high-power output required in radar and communications equipment. ">

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The Magnetron

The MAGNETRON, shown in figure 2-17, view (A), is a self-contained microwave oscillator that operates differently from the linear-beam tubes, such as the twt and the klystron. View (B)is a simplified drawing of the magnetron. CROSSED-ELECTRON and MAGNETIC fields are used in the magnetron to produce the high-power output required in radar and communications equipment.

Figure 2-17A. - Magnetron.

Figure 2-17B. - Magnetron.

The magnetron is classed as a diode because it has no grid. A magnetic field located in the space between the plate (anode) and the cathode serves as a grid. The plate of a magnetron does not have the same physical appearance as the plate of an ordinary electron tube. Since conventional inductive-capacitive (LC) networks become impractical at microwave frequencies, the plate is fabricated into a cylindrical copper block containing resonant cavities which serve as tuned circuits. The magnetron base differs considerably from the conventional tube base. The magnetron base is short in length and has large diameter leads that are carefully sealed into the tube and shielded.

The cathode and filament are at the center of the tube and are supported by the filament leads. The filament leads are large and rigid enough to keep the cathode and filament structure fixed in position. The output lead is usually a probe or loop extending into one of the tuned cavities and coupled into a waveguide or coaxial line. The plate structure, shown in figure 2-18, is a solid block of copper. The cylindrical holes around its circumference are resonant cavities. A narrow slot runs from each cavity into the central portion of the tube dividing the inner structure into as many segments as there are cavities. Alternate segments are strapped together to put the cavities in parallel with regard to the output. The cavities control the output frequency. The straps are circular, metal bands that are placed across the top of the block at the entrance slots to the cavities. Since the cathode must operate at high power, it must be fairly large and must also be able to withstand high operating temperatures. It must also have good emission characteristics, particularly under return bombardment by the electrons. This is because most of the output power is provided by the large number of electrons that are emitted when high-velocity electrons return to strike the cathode. The cathode is indirectly heated and is constructed of a high-emission material. The open space between the plate and the cathode is called the INTERACTION SPACE. In this space the electric and magnetic fields interact to exert force upon the electrons.

Figure 2-18. - Cutaway view of a magnetron.

The magnetic field is usually provided by a strong, permanent magnet mounted around the magnetron so that the magnetic field is parallel with the axis of the cathode. The cathode is mounted in the center of the interaction space.

BASIC MAGNETRON OPERATION. - Magnetron theory of operation is based on the motion of electrons under the influence of combined electric and magnetic fields. The following information presents the laws governing this motion.

The direction of an electric field is from the positive electrode to the negative electrode. The law governing the motion of an electron in an electric field (E field) states:

The force exerted by an electric field on an electron is proportional to the strength of the field. Electrons tend to move from a point of negative potential toward a positive potential.

This is shown in figure 2-19. In other words, electrons tend to move against the E field. When an electron is being accelerated by an E field, as shown in figure 2-19, energy is taken from the field by the electron.

Figure 2-19. - Electron motion in an electric field.

The law of motion of an electron in a magnetic field (H field) states:

The force exerted on an electron in a magnetic field is at right angles to both the field and the path of the electron. The direction of the force is such that the electron trajectories are clockwise when viewed in the direction of the magnetic field.

This is shown in figure 2-20.

Figure 2-20. - Electron motion in a magnetic field.

In figure 2-20, assume that a south pole is below the figure and a north pole is above the figure so that the magnetic field is going into the paper. When an electron is moving through space, a magnetic field builds around the electron just as it would around a wire when electrons are flowing through a wire. In figure 2-20 the magnetic field around the moving electron adds to the permanent magnetic field on the left side of the electron's path and subtracts from the permanent magnetic field on the right side. This action weakens the field on the right side; therefore, the electron path bends to the right (clockwise). If the strength of the magnetic field is increased, the path of the electron will have a sharper bend. Likewise, if the velocity of the electron increases, the field around it increases and the path will bend more sharply.

A schematic diagram of a basic magnetron is shown in figure 2-21, view (A). The tube consists of a cylindrical plate with a cathode placed along the center axis of the plate. The tuned circuit is made up of cavities in which oscillations take place and are physically located in the plate.

When no magnetic field exists, heating the cathode results in a uniform and direct movement of the field from the cathode to the plate, as illustrated in figure 2-21, view (B). However, as the magnetic field surrounding the tube is increased, a single electron is affected, as shown in figure 2-22. In view (A), the magnetic field has been increased to a point where the electron proceeds to the plate in a curve rather than a direct path.

Figure 2-21A. - Basic magnetron. SIDE VIEW

Figure 2 - 21B. - Basic magnetron. END VIEW OMITTING MAGNETS

Figure 2-22. - Effect of a magnetic field on a single electron.

In view (B) of figure 2-22, the magnetic field has reached a value great enough to cause the electron to just miss the plate and return to the filament in a circular orbit. This value is the CRITICAL VALUE of field strength. In view (C), the value of the field strength has been increased to a point beyond the critical value; the electron is made to travel to the cathode in a circular path of smaller diameter.

View (D) of figure 2-22. shows how the magnetron plate current varies under the influence of the varying magnetic field. In view (A), the electron flow reaches the plate, so a large amount of plate current is flowing. However, when the critical field value is reached, as shown in view (B), the electrons are deflected away from the plate and the plate current then drops quickly to a very small value. When the field strength is made still greater, as shown in view (C), the plate current drops to zero.

When the magnetron is adjusted to the cutoff, or critical value of the plate current, and the electrons just fail to reach the plate in their circular motion, it can produce oscillations at microwave frequencies. These oscillations are caused by the currents induced electrostatically by the moving electrons. The frequency is determined by the time it takes the electrons to travel from the cathode toward the plate and back again. A transfer of microwave energy to a load is made possible by connecting an external circuit between the cathode and the plate of the magnetron. Magnetron oscillators are divided into two classes: NEGATIVE-RESISTANCE and ELECTRON-RESONANCE MAGNETRON OSCILLATORS.

A negative-resistance magnetron oscillator is operated by a static negative resistance between its electrodes. This oscillator has a frequency equal to the frequency of the tuned circuit connected to the tube.

An electron-resonance magnetron oscillator is operated by the electron transit time required for electrons to travel from cathode to plate. This oscillator is capable of generating very large peak power outputs at frequencies in the thousands of megahertz. Although its average power output over a period of time is low, it can provide very high-powered oscillations in short bursts of pulses.

Q.31 The folded waveguide in a bwo serves the same purpose as what component in a twt? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.32 What serves as a grid in a magnetron? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.33 A cylindrical copper block with resonant cavities around the circumference is used as what component of a magnetron? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.34 What controls the output frequency of a magnetron?answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.35 What element in the magnetron causes the curved path of electron flow? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.36 What is the term used to identify the amount of field strength required to cause the electrons to just miss the plate and return to the filament in a circular orbit? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.37 A magnetron will produce oscillations when the electrons follow what type of path? answer.gif (214 bytes)

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