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Nanosecond Electrical Pulser



OBJECTIVE: Develop a tunable high voltage nanosecond electrical pulse generator that can deliver between 100 and 300kV to a 200 ohm load. 

DESCRIPTION: Research into nanosecond electrical pulses suggests potential applications in the medical and security industry. The majority of biological based research using nsEP pulses has been completed using <40 kV nanosecond pulses and very little is known regarding biological affects following high application of short duration high voltage electrical pulses. nsEPs are generally ultra-short electric pulses that have durations typically between 0.1 and 10000 nanoseconds, and amplitude in thousands of volts. Applications using high-powered nsEP range from instrument sterilization to in vivo treatment of superficial melanomas. Schoenbach et al. first applied nsEP to cells using a microscopic parallel plate setup and showed dramatic bioeffects, including nuclear granulation, calcium influx into cytoplasm (reported to be from internal stores), permeabilization of intracellular granules, cell apoptosis, and damage to the nuclear DNA. It is hypothesized that “nanopores” are formed within the plasma membrane, allowing for the influx of ions and water into the cell, but still restricting the influx of larger molecules like propidium iodide. Pakhomov et al. further verified this finding using patch clamp technique to measure the plasma membrane integrity following nsEP exposure. Low-intensity nsEP exposures have also generated action potentials (APs), leading to muscle contractions and neural stimulation. Jiang and Cooper demonstrated that a single 12-ns nsEP at 403 V/cm was capable of activating skin nociceptors using patch clamp technique. They were able to demonstrate this same effect at 100 pulses delivered at 4000 Hz with very low voltages (16.7 V/cm). Modeling work suggests that at higher voltages (100 kV/cm at 10 ns or 2 kV/cm at 600 ns) nsEPs can cause the inhibition of APs by forming a conductance block. Modeling work also suggests that a larger target requires a more extensive energy delivery to meet motor inhibition needs. Scientists, researchers, and medical support personnel require a portable, adjustable pulse generator with the capability of delivering the following requirements: - Adjustable high voltage: 100-300kV - Pulse width: 900-10000 nanoseconds - Rise time: 10 nanoseconds - Pulse repetition frequency: 0.1Hz to 0.003Hz - Load: 200 ohm - Size/weight: less than 50 cubic centimeters volume/less than 500 grams mass No government furnished materials, equipment, data, or facilities will be provided. 

PHASE I: In Phase I, a prototype design concept will be developed for use in a laboratory setting. The developed “breadboard” should meet basic requirements for repeated nanosecond electrical pulse generation. RESEARCH INVOLVING ANIMAL OR HUMAN SUBJECTS: No human or animal research will be performed by the SBIR company. 

PHASE II: The developed breadboard from Phase I will be implemented into a final design solution, a laboratory-use prototype developed, and optimized output validated. Based on the Phase I design parameters, construct and demonstrate a functional prototype of the device. The technical feasibility of the device should be validated through data rich samples that meet the outlined technical requirements listed in the description. A biologically relevant load for high voltage delivery should be used (such as an aqueous-electrolyte resistor). Specifically the prototype should address the general requirements listed above, as well as the method for electrical delivery control when transferring energy to the target. 

PHASE III: Use by bioeffects researchers, RF engineers, and medical support personnel to help characterize effects of short duration high voltage pulses in biological material. Transition the technology to field-able devices for use in military, medical industry, and commercial security applications. Phase III will transition the device, developed in Phase II, into an operationally acceptable prototype for use during non-lethal incapacitation, for use both in military and commercial applications. A device that can quickly inhibit motor movement for extended durations from a short pulse will enable more a more efficient force application. In addition, such technology can alleviate in-field challenges such as incapacitating multiple targets in a short window of time. It can also provide a safe application for both operator and target during extended duration operations. The translation of the technology can also be explored into the commercial sector for law enforcement applications. 


1: Ledwig, P., M. Jirjis, J. Payne, B. Ibey, Nanosecond Electrical Pulse Bioeffects: Simulation of the Electric Field at the Spinal Cord in a Human Model, AFRL-RH-FS-TR-2015-0036, Sept 2015

2:  Payne, J., B. Ibey, N. Montgomery, R. Seaman, Nanosecond Electrical Pulse Bioeffects: Simulation of the Electric Field at the Spinal Cord, AFRL-RH-FS-TR-2014-0038, June 2014.

3:  Ibey BL, Mixon D, Payne JA, Bowman A, Sickendick, K, Wilmink G, Roach W, Pakhomov AG, "Plasma membrane permeabilization by trains of ultrashort electric pulses" Bioelectrochemistry, 79, 2010.

4:  Pakhomov AG, Bowman AM, Ibey BL, Andre FM, Pakhomova ON, Schoenbach, KH, "Lipid nanopores can form a stable, ion channel-like conduction pathway in cell membrane," Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 385(2), 2009

KEYWORDS: Pulse Generation, Generator, Nanosecond Pulsers, Pulsed Power Applications, High Voltage, Electrical Pulse Generation 


Michael Jirjis 

(210) 539-8035 

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