Home Electromagnetic DVIDS – News – SMART Scholar and SEED grantee working to develop laser micro-triggering in Spark Gap switches

DVIDS – News – SMART Scholar and SEED grantee working to develop laser micro-triggering in Spark Gap switches


Getting directed energy systems from the lab into the hands of the combatant is no easy task. Projects require years of basic research, followed by research and development efforts, and finally testing and evaluation. Electrical engineer and SMART SEED grant recipient Jon Cameron Pouncey, Ph.D., of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, is undertaking a three-year effort to develop a new laser microtrigger in spark gap switches to pulsed power systems. Its efforts are aimed at increasing the efficiency and reliability of switches for the energy modernization domain led by the Department of Defense (DoD).

Pulsed power systems are essential for providing power conditioners, or the device that provides the proper voltage, in most directed energy weapon systems. Current technology uses spark gaps or gas interrupters, but they suffer from reliability and tripping issues. Although laser triggering has also been used to improve trigger performance in large fixed-site pulsed power systems, it has not been used successfully in directed energy applications. Current performance and reliability issues limit the development of directed energy systems.

Jon envisions his research being incorporated into joint DoD efforts such as the High-Power Joint Electromagnetic Non-Kinetic Strike (HIJENKS) and Pre-Emplaced Vehicle Stopper (PEVS) programs. HIJENKS is a joint Navy and Air Force research program that will demonstrate the next generation of high-powered microwave payloads. The PEVS program is developing a non-lethal electromagnetic vehicle arresting system to protect DoD facilities. In both projects, laser triggering can improve device reliability.

Fusing his desire to create new technologies and his enthusiasm for pulsed power technology, Jon’s current research extends to his doctoral thesis on micro-laser trigger switches. Jon and his advisor struggled to receive funding for his thesis research until Jon was selected for the SMART Scholarship program. Jon says: “Thanks to the SMART scholarship, my advisor did not have to support me financially, so I was free to conduct this research while progressing towards my degree. When SMART announced its SEED Grant funding opportunity in 2020, Jon applied knowing it fused his passion for creating new technologies and micro-lasers, while developing technology needed for a DoD modernization area.

The SMART Scholar SEED Grant Program is sponsored by the SMART Program Office and the Office of Laboratories and Personnel of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. SEED grant recipients receive research grants of up to $100,000 per year for up to three years to help promising SMART researchers establish a fundamental research or engineering effort in their area of ​​expertise during the transition from pursuing their doctorate. to a DoD professional. To foster relationships between SEED grant recipients and established members of the DoD technical workforce, SEED grant recipient mentors are eligible for an additional $25,000 annually to support close engagement and collaboration with their mentee SEED Grant.

Date taken: 28.03.2022
Date posted: 28.03.2022 11:26
Story ID: 417295
Location: Virginia, United States

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