Iowa Patent of the Month – June 2023

Cellencor, Inc. has committed themselves to developing microwave solutions that save energy, increase quality and maximize production rates. They are approaching this mission by combining microwave theory and real-world experience as they design high-power microwave systems.

The field of microwave systems has seen significant advancements with the introduction of solid-state components, offering benefits such as frequency agility and improved control. However, high-power microwave systems still face challenges related to impedance matching, power control, and applicator design. To address these issues, Cellencor has developed a method and system for exciting gas plasma generators or other gas plasma devices using solid-state microwave generators.

The proposed method involves producing a fast, high-power microwave ignition pulse from a solid-state microwave generator and then reducing the power to a defined maintenance level. The frequency and power level of the ignition pulse and maintenance level can be set by the user or automatically determined. By pulsing microwave energy, the gas plasma can be controlled effectively.

To ensure that the gas plasma is struck, the method includes monitoring return loss or load impedance to detect any impedance change. If the plasma is not initiated, the power can be increased, and the high-power microwave ignition pulse can be repeated. This iterative process allows for optimal tuning and control of the plasma generation.

The system incorporates a two-phase process to tune the microwave generator to the plasma apparatus. In the first phase, a frequency sweep operation is performed to identify the optimal frequency for the ignition pulse. In the second phase, after the plasma has been initiated and the microwave power and plasma generator impedance have changed significantly, the power is reduced to a level sufficient to maintain the plasma. The system automatically determines the new frequency with the best impedance match by sweeping up and down in frequency within a bounded range, preventing excess reflected power that could extinguish the plasma.

The invention also offers precise power control over a wide dynamic range and includes an integral one-port network analyzer function for impedance measurement. Adaptive power control ensures precise adjustment of power output to changing loads based on user-defined rules.

With the disclosed features, the high-power solid-state microwave generator provides improved frequency agility, power control, and impedance matching capabilities. The system’s modular architecture allows for various output power levels, and its microcontroller-based control system ensures high-speed real-time response.

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