Performance of Electron Power Tubes Comparison with Solid-State Devices

Performance of Electron Power Tubes Comparison with Solid-State Devices

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Power grid tubes are traditionally used for generation and amplification of power at radio frequencies; for modulation, switching, and rectification; and formerly, for low power level applications including receivers and early computers. Solid-sta...

Power grid tubes are traditionally used for generation and amplification of power at radio frequencies; for modulation, switching, and rectification; and formerly, for low power level applications including receivers and early computers. Solid-state devices and packages have eliminated tubes from all low-power-level applications where information processing is the objective, and they are becomeing widely used where up to 2 kW of CW power is required for radio transmission below about 2 Ghz. At much higher power levels, power tubes remain the ecomonical choice and are likely to remain so for the forseeable future.

Fig. 9 shows the RF power obtainable from various devices as a function frequency. Data are taken from manufactures catalogs and other published information. It is clear that in terms of maximum CW power obtainable, a single power tube device is many orders of magnitude more powerful than a single solid-state device over the whole frequency range. This situation not likely to change. It exists because of the fundamental physical distinction between the properties of electrons moving in a vacuum and electron moving in solid material , and the properties of the media themselves.

This can be seen from the following discussion.

Radio frequency generators are really converters of DC to RF power. The key elements are:

A. A DC power supply

B. An RF resonant circuit with Q greater than approximately 5

C. A source of electrons

D. A means of bunching electrons and accelerating the bunches

E. A means for interaction between the bunches of electrons and the resonant circuit so that energy is extracted from the electrons and transferred via the circuit (which, like a flywheel, stores energy) to a useful load such as an antenna or a substance to be heated. (See Fig.10) 

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