Article | February 11, 2014

Magnetron Theory Of Operation

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A magnetron is a high power microwave oscillator in which the potential energy of an electron cloud near the cathode is converted into r.f. energy in a series of cavity resonators similar to the one shown in Figure 1. As depicted by the low frequency analog, the rear wall of the structure may be considered the inductive portion, and the vane tip region the capacitor portion of the equivalent resonant circuit. The resonant frequency of a microwave cavity is thereby determined by the physical dimension of the resonator together with the reactive effect of any perturbations to the inductive or capacitive portion of the equivalent circuit. This is an important point and will be recalled later.

In order to sustain oscillations in a resonant circuit, it is necessary to continuously input energy in the correct phase. Referring to Figure 2, if the instantaneous r.f. field, due to steady state oscillations in the resonator, is in the direction shown, and, an electron with velocity was to travel through the r.f. field such that the r.f. field retarded the electron velocity by an amount, the decrease in electron energy will be exactly offset by an increase in the r.f. field strength.

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Communications & Power Industries, Beverly Microwave Division