Archive: Apr 2024

Understanding the Role of Power Supplies in RF Systems

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RF energy sources generate high-frequency electromagnetic fields. Though they’re commonly used in communications applications, RF power supply systems can power a wide range of applications through both transformer and transformerless options. 

These high-frequency electromagnetic fields resonate inside cavities to generate specific signals, frequencies, and secondary fields. In particle accelerators, for example, RF cavities can accelerate particles at very specific increments through a strong electric field. 

Learn more about the various applications of RF power supplies, their roles in RF systems, and how Stangenes can help with your next RF system project. 


Applications of RF Power Supply

RF energy was primarily used in communications contexts, but today’s RF power supplies apply to a wide range of industrial and government applications. Some of the most impactful uses of RF power supply are the following:


RF power supplies find crucial applications in the medical field, playing a pivotal role in various diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. These power supplies are integral components in technologies like MRI machines, where they facilitate the generation of the high-frequency magnetic fields necessary for imaging soft tissues with exceptional clarity and precision. Other medical applications include delivering precise doses of radiation in medical radiation therapy.


Military organizations around the world use RF power supplies to use a wide range of communications tools and technology, including lasers, radars, directed energy devices, and more. RF power supplies are also used in Active Denial Systems, which are long-range and non-lethal beams of waves for counter-personnel applications. Large pulse transformers in RF systems can generate 1.5MV 1800 A capabilities for charging capacitors used in flash X-ray photography.


RF power supplies are important in particle accelerator facilities, as they excite particles to specific levels and accelerations for experiments. Researchers also use RF to generate particle beams and test their effects on different materials and material prototypes.


Manufacturers use RF power supplies to produce and finish specialty goods by generating an electron beam. The beam can alter materials during the manufacturing stage to change their characteristics, apply surface-level finishes, and more. RF power supplies also play a role in air and gas containment systems.


The Relationship Between RF Energy Systems and Power Supply

RF energy systems rely on a stable power supply that won’t fluctuate or cause disruptions. Electronics depend on a well-regulated, filtered power supply with the right components to eliminate interference with no risk of noise or uncontrolled variations in power strength; without these protective measures, the signal could distort, or power fluctuations could negatively impact performance. 

To achieve optimal RF stability and function, power supplies interconnect with RF energy system components like magnets, modulators, inductors, and transformers. Well-built power supplies will interact with these components to create the best possible signal and capabilities.


Magnets can focus, bend, and otherwise manipulate RF beams and detect activity within a magnetic field. The three most commonly used magnets are hollow tube, wire wound, and foil wound varieties. RF energy systems use magnets in applications like MRIs, which detect atomic-level behaviors.


High-voltage pulsed modulators send a modulated signal to a tube that amplifies that signal. These modulators are critical in directed energy applications, such as the linear accelerators that advance the fields of scientific research and medical oncology. Linear accelerators use high-voltage pulses to accelerate charged particles, which are then used to study materials at the molecular and atomic levels. 

These particle accelerators also play a key role in oncology by directing precise, high-energy X-ray beams to cancerous cells with minimal damage to healthy tissue. Thus, high-voltage pulsed power modulators help deliver more accurate radiation doses to patients while minimizing their side effects. Modulators rely on RF power supplies that generate the right voltage and current to activate and modulate the signal.


Inductors are components in RF circuits, such as resonators, amplifiers, and filters. They oppose changes in current levels (either increases or decreases) and can passively store energy.


Transformers use electromagnetic induction to move energy from one circuit to the next, typically increasing or decreasing voltage along the way. 

Transformers have different numbers of windings, which determines how much the voltage will change as the signal generates a magnetic field, induces a voltage in the secondary winding, and continues along the path. RF transformers are frequently used for the following:

  • Voltage step-up or step-down in electrical systems
  • Impedance matching so power can transfer efficiently across the transformer
  • Blocking DC while allowing AC continuity


Generating Powerful RF With Stangenes

Stangenes specializes in creating high-performance RF power systems and components. One of our signature products is our large pulse transformer, which can generate very large pulses of RF, up to 1.5MV 1800 A. This transformer has a wide range of applications, including:

  • Charging capacitors for flash X-ray photography
  • Photographic nuclear detonation
  • Other uses that require extremely powerful Klystron-created beams

Choosing the right transformer for RF systems is essential for generating precise signals with the right strength and stability.


RF Power Supply Systems From Stangenes

RF power supplies are a critical part of every RF system. They must generate concentrated fields to provide the right level of power for niche applications. At Stangenes Industries, Incorporated, we design and develop RF power supply systems for applications ranging from nuclear detonators to material research. 

Request a quote today to access the right RF power supply tools for your systems.