This technology, which is expected to lower the cost of particle accelerators, is featured in the current issue of the research magazine Pictures of the Future.
People often associate particle accelerators with large laboratories such as CERN and DESY. In fact, most of the around 30,000 facilities in use worldwide are located in clinics and industry. At the heart of an accelerator is a high-frequency generator that produces high voltages at several hundred megahertz. They are based on electron tubes that require a sophisticated high voltage electrical supply and reach a maximum efficiency of 60 percent.
In order to achieve a higher efficiency the CT researchers are using transistors based on the semiconductor silicon carbide. These components work at very high frequencies, cope with high power outputs and offer up to 70 percent efficiency. One such transistor has an output of several kilowatts and is easily a hundred times smaller than a comparable electron tube. Now, modules made up of several transistors can achieve a power output of 160 kilowatts at a frequency of 324 megahertz. These values are roughly what medical and industrial applications require. The next step is to produce units with an output of around three megawatts suitable for scientific applications.
The researchers are also using semiconductor technology to develop inexpensive standardized control cabinets for the drive units of accelerators. It will also be possible to combine these cabinets according to the needs of a given situation. A prototype should be ready in 2013.
Dr. Norbert Aschenbrenner | Siemens InnovationNews
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