WO2014036147A1 - System and method for plasma generation - Google Patents

System and method for plasma generation Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2014036147A1
WO2014036147A1 PCT/US2013/057095 US2013057095W WO2014036147A1 WO 2014036147 A1 WO2014036147 A1 WO 2014036147A1 US 2013057095 W US2013057095 W US 2013057095W WO 2014036147 A1 WO2014036147 A1 WO 2014036147A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
plasma
electrode
power supply
field
embodiment
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PCT/US2013/057095
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Jack HUNT
Mark L. MAKI
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Jh Quantum Technology, Inc.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
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Publication date
Priority to US13/597,230 priority Critical patent/US20130175246A1/en
Priority to US13/597,230 priority
Application filed by Jh Quantum Technology, Inc. filed Critical Jh Quantum Technology, Inc.
Publication of WO2014036147A1 publication Critical patent/WO2014036147A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05HPLASMA TECHNIQUE; PRODUCTION OF ACCELERATED ELECTRICALLY-CHARGED PARTICLES OR OF NEUTRONS; PRODUCTION OR ACCELERATION OF NEUTRAL MOLECULAR OR ATOMIC BEAMS
    • H05H1/00Generating plasma; Handling plasma
    • H05H1/02Arrangements for confining plasma by electric or magnetic fields; Arrangements for heating plasma
    • H05H1/16Arrangements for confining plasma by electric or magnetic fields; Arrangements for heating plasma using externally-applied electric and magnetic fields
    • H05H1/18Arrangements for confining plasma by electric or magnetic fields; Arrangements for heating plasma using externally-applied electric and magnetic fields wherein the fields oscillate at very high frequency, e.g. in the microwave range, e.g. using cyclotron resonance

Abstract

A system and method for generating a plasma. A first electrode and a second electrode are disposed adjacent to one another, not touching one another. A first power supply supplies power at the second electrode, and a second power supply generates a magnetic field. A sequencer coordinates a discharge of power from the first power supply and a discharge of power from the second power supply. The first power supply may be is configured such that the discharge of power from the first power supply generates a plasma between the first electrode and the second electrode. The second power supply is configured such that the magnetic field it generates rotates the plasma. Depending upon disclosed relative geometries of the electrodes and the magnetic field, the plasma is shaped alternatively as a disc, a dome, a sleeve, or a polygonal sheet.

Description

SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PLASMA GENERATION

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application an international application based on and claiming the filing priority of U.S. Application No. 13/597,230, filed August 28, 2012. The priority application is incorporated herein by reference, in its entirety, for all purposes.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Embodiments of the present invention relate to the field of plasma generation and, in particular, to the generation of plasma contained within a boundary without a container.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

(0003] Plasmas have long been the subject of research and investigation and continue to be the focus of many academic and industrial studies. However, while plasma is understood to be the most common form of matter in the universe, its use as a technology with widespread industrial applicability has been limited.

[0004] The use of plasmas in industry has traditionally been limited by various practical considerations. Plasmas are generally accompanied by thermal pressure gradients. Because many plasmas operate with high energy, the air comprising the plasma becomes hot and expands. Thus, any increase in plasma energy is typically accompanied by an increase in plasma volume. Plasmas with energies that have been useful in industry typically have had volumes so large that they are cumbersome.

[0005] In addition, plasmas typically generate strong electromagnetic and RF interference, making plasma-based devices largely incompatible with other electronic devices. Without the ability to control the interference generated by a plasma-based device, the operation of many electronic devices in the vicinity of the plasma-based device becomes needlessly compromised.

[0006] Plasmas have also typically required great amounts of power for their operation. Because of the high energies typically associated with plasma use, large power supplies have traditionally been required to operate plasmas, making plasmas unavailable in portable or mobile applications and available only for applications with the resources to generate the requisite power. [0007] Also, plasmas developed for industrial use have typically not generated enough physical force to be effective in stopping a projectile. Because most industrially developed plasmas have random force vectors associated with them, the use of plasma as physical shielding has been unavailable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] According to an embodiment of the present invention, a system for generating a plasma includes a first electrode and a second electrode that are disposed adjacent to one another, not touching one another. A first power supply supplies power at the second electrode, and a second power supply generates a magnetic field. A sequencer coordinates a discharge of power from the first power supply and a discharge of power from the second power supply. The first power supply may be is configured such that the discharge of power from the first power supply generates a plasma between the first electrode and the second electrode. The second power supply is configured such that the magnetic field it generates rotates the plasma.

[0009] The sequencer may trigger the first power supply and the second power supply such that a peak output of the first power supply occurs at substantially the same time as a peak output of the second power supply. Also, the sequencer may trigger the first power supply and the second power supply such that a peak output of the first power supply occurs within

approximately one millisecond of a peak output of the second power supply.

[0010] The system may further include an impedance circuit disposed between the first power supply and the second electrode. The impedance circuit nominally matches an impedance of the first power supply to an impedance of the second electrode and a gap between the first electrode and the second electrode.

[0011] The first power supply may include a third power supply and a fourth power supply. The third power supply may supply a voltage and the fourth power supply may supply a current.

[0012] The second electrode may be disposed within a boundary of the first electrode. The first electrode may be configured as a loop or ring. The first power supply may be connected to a first side of the impedance circuit and the second electrode may be connected to a second side of the impedance circuit. [0013) The system may further include a ring magnet and windings surrounding the ring magnet. The second power supply may discharge power into the windings. The system may further include a detection device for detecting an object in a vicinity of the first electrode. The detection device may trigger the sequencer and may initiate a modulation of the first power supply.

[0014] According to an embodiment of the present invention, a method for generating a plasma may include providing a first electrode; providing a second electrode disposed adjacent the first electrode; supplying power to the second electrode with a first power supply; generating a magnetic field with a second power supply; and coordinating a discharge of power from the first power supply and a discharge of power from the second power supply. The discharge of power from the first power supply may generate a plasma between the first electrode and the second electrode. The magnetic field resulting from the discharge of power from the second power supply may rotate the plasma.

[0015] The step of coordinating may include causing a peak output of the first power supply to occur at substantially the same time as a peak output of the second power supply. The step of coordinating may include causing the peak output of the first power supply to occur within approximately one millisecond of the peak output of the second power supply.

[0016] The method may further include disposing an impedance circuit between the first power supply and the second electrode. The impedance circuit may match an impedance of the first power supply to an impedance of the second electrode and a gap between the first electrode and the second electrode.

[0017] Providing a second electrode may include disposing the second electrode within a boundary of the first electrode. The first electrode may be configured as a loop.

[0018] With the foregoing invention, a free-standing protective plasma field may be generated between the first and second electrodes to thereby protect an interior space or zone within the plasma field. This plasma field and the shape and physical characteristics thereof may be varied and specifically designed by varying the physical structure of first and second electrodes as well as the structure of the magnet unit and the electromagnetic field generated thereby. [0019) According to one embodiment, the electrodes are configured to provide a plasma sheet having a tubular geometry of a selectable cross section. A plasma sheet configured in this way is useful for protecting a defined space or object from impact by an energetic body.

[0020J According to an alternate embodiment, the system is configured to provide a field sweep plasma sheet by reversing magnetic field via a sinusoidal driving current that causes an alternating reversing of the plasma sheet movement.

[0021] Alternatively, the invention is embodied to have vertical bar electrodes for use in a marine environment to provide a barrier against energetic ingress. The vertical orientation of the electrodes compensates for impedance effects near the water's surface.

[0022] Air filtration is provided according to one implementation of the present invention where in a plasma sheet is formed across an air handling duct, using either a radial plasma sheet configuration or a field sweep plasma configuration.

[0023] Air filtration is provided according to another implementation of the present invention where a double sheet of plasma is formed across an air-handling duct using a tubular plasma sheet configuration.

[0024] An application for embodiments of the present invention is as a barrier to energetic ingress of a portal in a structure, such as a door or a window, using either a radial plasma sheet configuration or a field sweep plasma configuration. This application provides for deflection of a shock wave or an energetic object at the portal barrier. Also, an oxidation wave front is deflected by the barrier and prevented from entering the building via the portal.

[0025] A useful embodiment of the present invention is as a way to provide a barrier against flames. Plasma sheet barriers according to the present invention may be implemented as fixed installations to provide flame shielding of fixed structures or specified areas, including plural barriers arranged as a perimeter. A movable embodiment for flame protection is useful for capping burning gas wellheads and other high-risk fire fighting scenarios.

[0026] Another embodiment of the present invention provides a plasma sheet barrier having a frusto-conical geometry to create a barrier capable of containing and shaping an overpressure shock wave. The plasma sheet barrier is formed around a high risk object, and in the event the high risk object becomes subject to a chemical reaction characterized by an oxidation wave front traveling near or above the speed of sound, the barrier acts to direct the expanding energy vertically and substantially attenuate any expanding energy in horizontal directions. A pressure sensor is disposed inside the plasma sheet barrier to detect an overpressure event and provide a quick trigger of energy into the plasma gap.

[00271 Fixed structures are systematically protected by an embodiment of the present invention that clads the structure in a grid of electrode pairs and magnetic field coils that are selectively energizing. Each pair of electrodes and an associated field coil compose a sector of the grid, and one or more sectors are fully energized upon detection of an event indicative of a detriment to the structure, such as an overpressure wave or an energetic object.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] A detailed description of embodiments of the invention will be made with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein like numerals designate corresponding parts in the several figures.

[0029] FIG. 1 shows a system for plasma generation according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0030] FIG. 2A shows a side view of an electromagnetic field generator according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0031] FIG. 2B shows a force diagram according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0032] FIG. 3A shows a side view of an electromagnetic field generator according to another embodiment of the present invention.

[0033] FIG. 3B shows a force diagram according to another embodiment of the present invention.

[0034] FIG. 4A shows a timing relationship between power supplies according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0035] FIG. 4B shows a timing relationship between power supplies according to another embodiment of the present invention.

[0036] FIG. 5 shows an impedance matching network according to an embodiment of the present invention. |0037] FIG. 6 shows a particle or projectile deflection using a plasma according to embodiments of the present invention.

[0038] FIG. 7 shows a system for plasma generation according to another embodiment of the present invention.

[00391 FIG. 8 shows a method for initiating a plasma and plasma field according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0040] FIG. 9 shows the basic process involved in forming plasma.

[0041] FIGS. 1 OA and 10B show, respectively, a prior art tokamak fusion reactor and the electromagnetic fields that the reactor generates.

[0042] FIG. 1 1 shows a system for projecting and electromagnetically confining a stabile, thin, free-standing wall of plasma in a cone or rod-shaped form that can effectively function as a defensive shield.

[0043] FIG. 12 shows the interaction of the particle/plasma beam with the electromagnetic field generated by the EMF generator.

[0044] FIG. 13 shows the various forces that interact with and allow for the generation of a stabile, thin sheet of plasma around the perimeter of a defined area.

[0045] FIGS. 14A-14E show the operational steps of a plasma-based defensive shield system incorporating a system for remotely detecting incoming projectiles.

[0046] FIG. 15 shows an additional embodiment of a plasma-based defensive shield system that utilizes the ground as one of the electrodes.

[0047] FIG. 16 shows an additional embodiment of a plasma-based defensive shield system that utilizes a rod-shaped EMF generator.

[0048] FIG. 17 shows a perspective view of a plasma sheet barrier system according to an embodiment of the present invention that provides for a tubular shaped plasma sheet.

[0049] FIG. 18 shows a perspective view of electrode rails from the embodiment shown in FIG. 17. [0050] FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of field coils from the embodiment shown in FIG. 17.

[0051] FIG. 20 shows a schematic circuit diagram for use in implementing the embodiment shown in FIG. 17.

[0052] FIG. 21 shows electrode and field coil configuration according to an alternate embodiment.

[0053] FIG. 22 shows an electrode and field coil configuration for an embodiment applicable to use in a marine location.

[0054] FIG. 23 shows a perspective view of an air filtration embodiment using a first plasma sheet configuration.

[0055] FIG. 24 shows a perspective view of an air filtration embodiment using a second plasma sheet configuration.

[0056] FIG. 25 shows a perspective view of an air filtration embodiment using a third plasma sheet configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0057] In the following description of preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the preferred embodiments of the present invention.

[0058] Fig. 1 shows a system for plasma generation 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The system 10 shown in Fig. 1 includes, but is not limited to, a first electrode 12, a second electrode 14, a deflection field power supply 20, a current power supply 16, an initiator supply 18 and a sequencer 24. The system 10 of Fig. 1 may also include a voltage power supply 26 and an impedance matching network 22.

[0059] In the embodiment of the invention shown in Fig. 1 , the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 may be configured in a variety of ways. For example, the first electrode 12 maybe a positive electrode in the form of a loop or annular ring while the second electrode 14 may be a negative electrode disposed in the center of the first electrode 12. However, the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 may be placed in any configuration that facilitates a discharge of power and the forming of a plasma between the first electrode and the second electrode.

[0060] The first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 may be fabricated from a variety of materials. For example, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the first electrode 12 may be made from copper while the second electrode 14 may be made from tungsten.

However, the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 may be fabricated from any electrically conductive material.

(0061] One or more power supplies may be connected to the electrodes. For example, in the system 10 shown in Fig. 1, a current power supply 16 and an initiator supply 18 are connected to the second electrode 14. Although the embodiment of the invention shown in Fig. 1 includes two power supplies, i.e., the current power supply 16 and the initiator supply 18, to provide power at the second electrode 14, embodiments of the invention may use one or more power supplies to provide power to the second electrode 14. For example, a single power supply may be used to provide voltage and current to the second electrode 14. In alternative embodiments, one power supply may be used to provide voltage to the second electrode 14 while a plurality of power supplies may be used to provide current to a second electrode 14. In other alternative embodiments, a plurality of power supplies may be used to provide a voltage to the second electrode 14 while a single power supply may be used to supply current to the second electrode 14.

[0062] The current power supply 16 and the initiator supply 18 may be chosen to provide sufficient power to cause a discharge of power and formation of a plasma between the second electrode 14 and the first electrode 12. For example, the current power supply 16 and the initiator supply 18 may be chosen such that current travels from the second electrode 14 to the first electrode 12, generating a plasma 28 (represented in Fig. 1 by an arrow showing the direction of plasma current flow) in the space between the second electrode 14 and the first electrode 12. The power supply or supplies used to provide power to the second electrode 14 and generate the plasma 28 may be any of a variety of power supply types. For example, the power supply or power supplies may be an AC supply, a DC supply, a pulsed DC supply, a linear supply, a switching supply or the like. [0063] According to an embodiment of the present invention, the current power supply 16 maybe a 450 volt DC power supply capable of sourcing 30 amps. The initiator supply 18 may be a 45 kilovolt DC power supply. The initiator supply 18 may be configured as a Marx bank or other type of network capable of generating a high voltage. The initiator supply 18 may also be configured to source sufficient current, such as 30 amps, for example.

[0064] The deflection field power supply 20 may be used to supply power for generating a magnetic field that rotates the plasma 28 about the circumference of the first electrode 12. The deflection field power supply 20 may be an AC supply, a DC supply, a pulsed DC supply, a linear supply, a switching supply or the like. According to an embodiment of the present invention, the deflection field power supply 20 may be a 900 volt DC power supply capable of sourcing 1 amp.

[0065] The deflection field power supply 20 may supply power to a variety of electrical configurations to generate a magnetic field. For example, Fig. 2a shows a side view of an electromagnetic field (EMF) generator 1 1 that may be powered by the deflection field power supply 20 according to an embodiment of the present invention. In Fig. 2a, an electromagnet core 32, which may be a solid core, for example, is wound with windings 34 which may be connected to the deflection field power supply 20. When the windings 34 are energized by the deflection field power supply 20, a magnetic field is produced that generates a force which acts on the plasma 28 existing between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14. An insulator 30, such as a mica insulator, for example, may be disposed between the electromagnet core 32 and the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14. The first electrode 12 may be attached to the insulator 30 using one or more connectors 13. According to an embodiment of the present invention, the first electrode 12 is attached to the insulator 30 with four, evenly spaced connectors 13 that facilitate balancing the inductance of the first electrode 12.

[0066] Fig. 2b shows a force diagram associated with the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 when a plasma is simultaneously generated with a magnetic field. In Fig. 2b, the plasma 28 has been induced in the air gap between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 by appropriately powering the current power supply 16 and the initiator supply 18, as will be explained in greater detail below. The first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 are shielded from the electromagnet formed by core 32 and windings 34 by the insulator 30. Energizing the electromagnet 32 and 34 causes a Lorentz force 36 (represented in Fig. 2b by an arrow showing the direction of plasma movement) to act upon the plasma 28. Thus, the plasma 28 will rotate in the direction of the force 36 much in the same way a rotor in an electromagnetic motor rotates due to the force generated by the electromagnet in the motor. However, in the embodiment of the invention shown in Fig. 2b, the plasma, i.e., "the charged air," acts as the rotor. As can be seen in Fig. 2a, the plasma 28 forms a "dome" over the electromagnetic field generator 11.

[0067] Fig. 3a shows a side view of an electromagnetic field generator 1 1 that may be powered by the deflection field power supply 20 according to another embodiment of the present invention. In Fig. 3a, a ring magnet 42 is wound with windings 40 which may be connected to the deflection field power supply 20. The ring magnet 42 may be any of a variety of magnet types and may be configured as a simple dipole magnet.

[0068] When the windings 40 are energized by the deflection field power supply 20, a magnetic field is produced that produces a force which acts on the plasma 28 existing between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14. In the embodiment of the invention shown in Fig. 3a, the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 may be disposed within the interior of the ring magnet 42.

[0069] Fig. 3b shows a force diagram associated with the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 when a plasma is simultaneously generated with a magnetic field. In Fig. 3b, the plasma 28 has been induced in the air between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 by appropriately powering the current power supply 16 and the initiator supply 18, as will be explained in greater detail below. Energizing the windings 40 of the ring magnet 42 causes a Lorentz force 36 to act upon the plasma 28. Due to the high current levels in the plasma 28, the plasma may be accelerated rapidly, resulting in a "sheet" of plasma. Also, due to the effects of angular momentum and inertial confinement, rotating charged particles may be locked in an orbital path around the second electrode 14. The velocity of the particles, coupled with magnetic pressure gradients and magnetic, or reverse-field, "pinch" effects, associated with the magnetic field generated by the deflection field power supply 20 act to form a plasma boundary which prevents charged particles from escaping the boundary of the plasma.

[0070] In operation, a flux generated by the ring magnet 42 may be aligned with the current discharge of the current power supply 16 while a magnetic field rise and fall time generated by the ring magnet 42 may be synchronized with the same current discharge of the current power supply 16 so that saturation of the core of the ring magnet 42 coincides with population inversion of the plasma 28. During population inversion of the plasma 28, typically over one-half of the atoms in the gas existing between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 may be charged or ionized. Because ionized particles will interact with the magnetic field generated by the deflection field power supply 20 and the ring magnet 42, it is desirable that as many atoms as possible in the gas existing between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 become charged.

[0071] Also, the charged or ionized atoms exhibit a "metastable" lifetime, i.e., a time during which a charged atom will retain its charge before losing its charge by emitting a photon or other means. Accordingly, in order to maximize charging of the atoms in the gas between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14, it may be desirable that as many atoms as possible in the gas between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 become charged or ionized (population inversion) before the metastable lifetime is reached by the first atoms to become charged. To achieve this result, energy sufficient to cause population inversion may be imparted to the plasma 28 in a relatively short period of time. For example, according to an embodiment of the present invention, energy may be imparted to the plasma 28 from the various power supplies in about 1 millisecond. Doing so may permit maximum deflection of the plasma 28 by the magnetic field generated by the deflection field power supply 20 and the ring magnet 42 and allow for maximum acceleration of the charged particles making up the plasma 28. Upon achieving critical acceleration, charged particles pass an inertial confinement threshold at the moment of maximum magnetic pinch, confining the plasma in all axes simultaneously, producing a flat circular plasma sheet with a force vector concentrated in a radial direction.

[0072) Returning back to Fig. 1 , the sequencer 24 may be used to coordinate the timing of the current power supply 16, the initiator supply 18 and the deflection field power supply 20 so that ionic saturation of the plasma 28 coincides with magnetic field saturation and flux alignment. For example, the sequencer 24 may be used to provide timing signals to each of the power supplies in the system 10 so that the plasma 28 is effectively induced between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 and is caused to rotate about the circumference of the first electrode 12 in response to the magnetic field generated by the deflection field power supply 20 and the ring magnet 42. The sequencer 24 may include discrete devices or may include a microcontroller, microprocessor and the like or may include a combination of discrete devices and microcontrollers to generate the timing signals that coordinate the discharge of power from the current power supply 16, the initiator supply 18 and the deflection field power supply 20. For example, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the sequencer 24 may include a plurality of monostable multivibrators (i.e., one-shots) configured in a manner to appropriately sequence the discharge of power from the current power supply 16, the initiator supply 18 and the deflection field power supply 20. According to another embodiment of the present invention, the sequencer 24 may include a self-contained microcontroller programmed to appropriately sequence the discharge of power from the current power supply 16, the initiator supply 18 and the deflection field power supply 20.

[0073] Fig. 4a shows a timing relationship between the output 50 of the deflection field power supply 20 and the output 52 of the initiator supply 18. According to an embodiment of the present invention, a trigger pulse maintains a plasma conduit between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 until the current power supply 16 fully discharges into the circuit that includes the second electrode 14 and the air or other gaseous gap between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14. As can be seen in Fig. 4a, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the peak output 52 of the initiator supply 18 occurs within about a one millisecond window of the peak output 50 (corresponding to full width-half maximum (FWHM) of the peak output 50) of the deflection field power supply 20. Similarly, in Fig. 4b, the peak output 52 of the initiator supply 18 occurs within about a one millisecond window of the peak output 54 of the current power supply 16. By sequencing the initiator supply 18, the current power supply 16 and the deflection field power supply 20 with the proper timing, population inversion and ionic saturation of the plasma 28 coincides with saturation of the magnetic field and the alignment of the flux generated by the deflection field power supply 20 and the ring magnet 42.

[0074] Referring back to Fig. 1 , the voltage power supply 26 may be used to charge the initiator supply 18. For example, the voltage power supply 26 may be a 9000 volt power supply. In applications where the peak voltage output of the initiator supply 18 is such that generation of the requisite voltage at the second electrode 14 with the proper timing and sufficient efficiency is difficult with a single supply, the voltage power supply 26 may be used to "pre-charge" the initiator supply 18. According to an embodiment of the present invention, the initiator supply 18 may include a bank of one hundred 450V capacitors, such as electrolytic capacitors, for example, organized as five banks of twenty capacitors. The voltage power supply 26 may charge each bank to 9000V for a total of 45kV which can then be discharged in series using high speed switches or the like when triggered by the sequencer 24.

[0075] Thus, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the initiator supply 18 may supply high voltage, low current power to the second electrode 14 while the current power supply 16 may supply low voltage, high current power to the second electrode 14. The low voltage, high current power supplied by the current power supply 16 may be triggered by the initiator supply 18, which itself may be charged by the voltage power supply 28. When the initiator supply 18 generates a trigger pulse, a plasma may be formed between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14, creating a low resistance discharge path for the current power supply 16.

[0076] Fig. 5 shows a schematic diagram of the impedance matching network 22 according to an embodiment of the present invention. An impedance matching network may be desirable in order to maximize the transfer of power from the current power supply 16 to the circuit made up of the second electrode 14 and the gap between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14, thus facilitating the coincidence of population inversion and ionic saturation of the plasma 28 with saturation of the magnetic field and the alignment of the flux generated by the deflection field power supply 20 and the ring magnet 42. The impedance matching network 22 may include a parallel connection of diode 60-resistor 64 and resistor 62 elements.

[0077] According to an embodiment of the present invention, nine sections of the diode 60- resistor 64 and resistor 62 network may be connected in parallel. The impedance matching network 22 may facilitate an efficient discharge of current from the current power supply 16 to a circuit made up of the second electrode 14 and the gap between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14. The diodes 60 may be chosen for high reverse voltage characteristics. For example, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the diodes 60 may be high voltage diodes capable of withstanding reverse voltages up to or exceeding 45 V and also capable of withstanding surge currents of up to 200 amps and more for periods of more than 8 milliseconds. Similarly, the resistors 62 may be chosen for high power handling capabilities and matching of the impedance of the second electrode and the air gap or other gaseous gap between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14. Also, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the resistors 62 may have a value of 0.005 ohms. Also, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the resistors 64 may have a value of 44 Mohms.

Additional impedance matching elements may be connected in series or in parallel with the diode 60-resistor 64 and resistor 62 network and chosen to match the impedance of the second electrode and the air gap or other gaseous gap between the first electrode 12 and the second electrode 14 making up the path for the flow of plasma 28 current.

|0078] Fig. 6 shows a particle deflection using the plasma 28 generated by embodiments of the present invention. In Fig. 6, a particle 70 is acted upon by the plasma 28. Using

embodiments of the present invention, by operating the current power supply 16, the initiator supply 18 and the deflection field supply 20 in such a way that the energy of the plasma 28 as it rotates about the circumference of the first electrode 12 is greater than the energy of the particle 70 as the particle 70 enters the plasma, the force of the plasma 28 changes the direction of the particle 70 when the particle 70 meets the plasma 28 so that the particle 70 moves in a direction parallel to the field of plasma 28 rotation. Thus, the particle 70 assumes a rotational velocity and is effectively precluded from reaching the center of the plasma 28. By properly adjusting the energy of the plasma 28 to the energy of the particle 70, the particle 70 may be deflected from its original path and may leave the plasma 28 at a velocity slower than its original velocity and in a direction away from its original direction. Thus, anything existing at the center of the plasma 28 may be effectively shielded by the plasma 28.

[0079) Fig. 7 shows a system for plasma generation 10 according to another embodiment of the present invention. The system 10 shown in Fig. 7 is similar to that shown in Fig. 1 except that the system 10 shown in Fig. 7 includes a sensor 80 and a projectile detection circuit 82. The sensor 80 and the projectile detection circuit 82 may be used to detect particles before they enter a boundary of the plasma 28 field and trigger a sequence of events that generates a plasma 28 field in sufficient time to deflect a projectile or other particle.

[0080] The sensor 80 may be any of a variety of individual sensors or sensor arrays with projectile or particle detection capabilities. For example, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the sensor 80 may be an optical reflective obstacle detection system using fiber optics and infrared sensors. Information relating to a projectile that has upset the optics of the sensor 80 may be fed to the projectile detection circuit 82. Information from the projectile detection circuit 82 may, in turn, be fed to the sequencer 24 to synchronize generation of the plasma 28 field so that incoming projectiles or particles are deflected.

[0081] The system 10 shown in Fig. 7 may also include a feedback path 84 from the vicinity of the first electrode 12 to the current power supply 16. The feedback path 84 may be used to sense the quality of the air (such as the number and/or type of particulates in the air, for example) around the first electrode 12 so that the impedance matching network 22 may be adjusted to an optimal impedance for current discharge.

[0082] Fig. 8 shows a method for initiating a plasma 28 and plasma 28 field according to an embodiment of the present invention. At step 90, a trigger event is received. According to an embodiment of the present invention, the trigger event may be the detection of a projectile by the sensor 80. At step 92, a sequencing signal is generated for the deflection field power supply 20. The sequencing signal may be a pulse from the sequencer 24. Subsequent to generation of the sequencing signal for the deflection field power supply 20, a sequencing signal is generated for the initiator supply 18. As was the case for the deflection field power supply 20, the sequencing signal for the initiator supply 18 may be a pulse from the sequencer 24. As was explained in connection with Fig. 4a and Fig. 4b, the sequencing signals are generated such that peak outputs of the power supplies occur at substantially the same time. At step 96, a modulation signal may be generated for the current power supply 16.

[0083] Based on the above discussion, the present invention is seen to disclose a system and method for generating a wall or sheet of plasma that can effectively function as a defensive shield or "force field". Unlike previous methods of plasma confinement which require the plasma to be enclosed within a physical structure, the present invention is able to generate and confine plasma into a stabile, free-standing "wall" that can be projected out onto an area that is not enclosed by a physical structure and has a shape that may be shaped as desired.

Consequently, it is believed the present invention is able to produce a plasma-based defensive shield that can be projected around the perimeter of an area so as to protect any objects or inhabitants within that area. When the defensive shield is in place, it is believed objects and projectiles such as high-speed projectiles (e.g. bullets) directed toward the protected area deflect off of the plasma wall forming the defensive shield. [0084] As already disclosed, the underlying principle of the defensive shield is the generation and projection of plasma that is electromagnetically confined and shaped to form a free-standing wall or barrier. Plasma is typically considered the fourth state of matter, the other three being solids, liquids and gas. By definition, plasma is a distinct state of matter containing a significant number of electrically charged particles that affect both the electrical properties and behavior of the matter.

[0085] A typical gas is comprised of molecules, which in turn are comprised of atoms containing positive charges in the nucleus which are surrounded by an equal number of negatively charged electrons. As a result of the equal number of positive and negative charges, each atom is electrically neutral. As illustrated in Fig. 9, a gas becomes plasma when the addition of energy, such as heat, first causes the gas molecules 100 to disassociate or break into atoms 102. Continued addition of energy subsequently ionizes the atoms, causing them to release some or all of their electrons. The remaining parts of the atoms are left with a positive charge, while the detached negative electrons are free to move about. When enough atoms are ionized to significantly affect the electrical characteristics of the gas, it becomes a plasma 104.

[0086] Due to its unique properties, plasma is frequently used in industrial applications (e.g. plasma torch for cutting and welding) as well as scientific research (e.g. the study of nuclear fusion). However, regardless of the application or setting, a key factor in the use of plasma is the ability to confine and control it.

[0087] The general concept of utilizing electromagnetic fields (EMF) to control and confine plasma is not new. For example, scientists researching the process of nuclear fusion frequently utilize a device known as a tokamak, which is a fusion reactor designed to generate high-energy plasma that can be heated to temperatures as high as one hundred million degrees Celsius. The extreme heat speeds up the nuclei of the plasma, thereby increasing the chance that two nuclei, both with positive charges that would normally repel one another, can collide and fuse.

[0088] As illustrated in Fig. 10A, the tokamak 1 10 is a donut-shaped structure (torus) designed to contain high energy plasma 1 12 that circulates within the interior of the tokamak. Due to its extremely high temperature, the plasma 1 12 circulating within the tokamak must be prevented from coming into contact with the walls of the structure. This is accomplished by electromagnetically confining the plasma to the center of the interior of the structure. This electromagnetic confinement is achieved by the use of multiple electromagnets that encompass or surround the donut-shaped structure. Specifically, a first set of electromagnets 1 14 are mounted upon and run around the torus in the long direction (known as the toroidal direction), while a plurality of electromagnets 1 16 are evenly spaced upon and run around the torus in the short direction (known as the poloidal direction). As illustrated in Fig. 10B, the resultant toroidal magnetic field 1 18 generated by electromagnets 1 16 combines with the poloidal magnetic field 120 generated by electromagnets 1 14 to form a helical magnetic field 122 that spirals around the torus and "traps" the plasma within the center of the interior.

(0089] As illustrated in Fig. 10A, typical prior art devices such as the tokamak 1 10 do not generate free-standing plasma fields. Instead, these devices are designed to generate plasma within the confines of a sealed container. Furthermore, in order for the tokamak 1 10 and similar prior art devices to achieve electromagnetic confinement of the plasma within the central interior of the container and away from the walls of the device, they require a plurality of electromagnets configured to encompass or surround the entire device.

[0090] As previously discussed, unlike prior devices and methods for confining plasma, the present invention does not generate and confine plasma within a sealed container. Instead, the present application discloses a device and method for electromagnetically confining plasma in such a manner as to form a free-standing plasma wall or barrier that can be projected over an area in order to function, for example, as a defensive shield. Furthermore, unlike the prior art, the disclosed method and corresponding device do not require multiple electromagnets positioned in such a manner as to envelop or surround all sides of the area to which the plasma is to be confined. Instead, as discussed above, and as will be further elaborated on below, the inventive method and device is capable of operating with a single electromagnet, for example, positioned to one side of the area to which the plasma is to be confined.

[0091] Fig. 1 1 illustrates one exemplary embodiment of a system 140 for plasma generation that is capable of projecting a plasma-based defensive shield 150 around an object or area. For reference sake, the same item numbers used for the system 10 illustrated in Fig. 1 will also be used for the system 140 illustrated in Fig. 1 1 whenever possible.

[0092] More particularly as to the system 140, this system 140 is configured for positioning on a base 141. This base 141 for test purposes would be a table but in application, could be a static structure such as a building or a mobile structure such as a vehicle, airplane or the like. The system includes a bottom support plate 142 formed of an insulative plexiglass. This bottom support plate 142 includes an insulative housing or container 143 positioned on the top thereof which preferably comprises top, bottom and side walls that are formed of sheets of plexiglass bolted together at the corners through connectors 144. Preferably this housing 143 defines an enclosed, hollow box although other suitable shapes are possible depending upon the ultimate geometric shape of the plasma field 150 being generated and the components therefor.

[0093] The housing 143 includes an annular EMF generator 1 1-1 which comprises a solid core and a plurality of windings 34-1 wound about the core. These windings 34-1 are energized by the deflection field power supply 20 through cables 146 and 147 that are electrically connected to the power supply 20 and energize the windings 34- 1 to produce the desired electromagnetic field. The field generator 1 1 -1 thereby defines an electromagnet having a central vertical axis 151 as seen in Figure 1 1. When energized, the field generator 34-1 defines an electromagnetic field 152 which will be described in further detail hereinafter relative to Figure 12.

100941 The system 140 further includes a field generator plate 153 that is formed of steel and includes a bottom plate 153 A as well as four upstanding side walls 153B. The bottom plate 153 A is disposed vertically between the upper surface of the bottom plate 142 as well as the opposing bottom surface of the housing 143 while the side plates 153B project vertically upwardly and exteriorly of the side faces of this housing 143 such that the housing 143 nests within the plate 153. This field generator plate 153 cooperates with and affects the

electromagnetic field 152 generated by the field generator 1 1 -1 to thereby assist in defining the shape and characteristics of this electromagnetic field as will be discussed in further detail hereinafter.

|0095] The system 14 further includes the electrodes 12 and 14. More particularly, the first electrode 12 in the illustrated embodiment is defined by an annular ring 12A of conductive wire or rod material, preferably formed of copper. This electrode ring 12A is disposed in a vertically raised position by upstanding support flanges 12B also formed of conductive copper. These flanges 12B project downwardly and outwardly and are affixed to horizontal electrode plates 12C which overly the top surface of the housing 143 and terminate at downwardly projecting connector flanges 12D. These connector flanges 12D are fastened to the upstanding side plates 153 by suitable fasteners 12E. It is noted that all of these components of the first electrode 12, namely components 12A-12E are all fixedly joined together and electrically connected together and furthermore are electrically coupled to the field generator plate 153 by their abutting surfaces. This plate 153 is furthermore connected to the negative terminal of the second electrode 12 by an electrical cable attached to this plate 153. As such, the plate 153 not only affects the magnetic field but also is part of the electrical circuit to which the first electrode 12 is connected.

|0096] As to the electrode ring 12 A, this ring 12A encircles or bounds a center region in which is disposed an insulative support stand 154 on which an object 155 may be positioned. This object 155 is diagrammatically represented as a rectangular box but may represent any object or article being protected by the plasma field 150. For example, this object 155 may be any one of various objects such as flammable or electrical objects or other physical structures which may be disposed in this position without being affected or destroyed by the surrounding plasma field 150. Furthermore, while the stand 154 is offset downwardly or sidewardly relative to the electrode ring 12A, the stand 154 also may be raised so as to lie coplanar with the ring 12A.

[0097| As to the second electrode 14, this electrode 14 is suspended above the stand 154 by a support assembly 155. This support assembly 155 includes a base plate 155A which physically supports an insulative support boom 155B that projects upwardly and is spaced sidewardly of the housing 143. On the upper end of the boom 155B, an electrically conductive support arm or rod 155C is affixed in cantilevered relation so as to project sidewardly outwardly over and above the first electrode 12. This support arm 155C is connected to the support boom 155B by suitable fasteners 155D. The outer distal or free end of the support rod 155C includes additional clamping nuts 155D by which an electrically conductive hanger plate 155E is suspended. This hanger plate 155E includes a support collar 155F on the bottom end thereof in which the rod-like electrode 14 is received and then affixed thereto by a set screw 155G. Therefore, the second electrode 14 is electrically connected to the support arm 155C.

[0098] This support arm 155C further has an inner proximal end that has an electrical supply cable 156 connected thereto by an additional fastener 155H. An insulator tube 1551 surrounds the arm 155C between the proximal and distal ends. The cable 156 extends downwardly into an insulative tube 157 and thereby is connected to the initiator supply 18 and current power supply 16 in accord with the diagram of Figure 1. As such, this electrode 14 is suspended concentrically above the first electrode 12 in vertically spaced relation.

[0099] Before turning to the operation of the system 140, it will be understood that the relative vertical positions of the first and second electrodes 12 and 14 define the overall height of the plasma field 150 and that these relative vertical positions may be adjusted or varied to vary the overall height of the field 150. It has been shown that the electrode 14 may also be placed generally downwardly in the plane of the electrode ring 12A to define a plasma field 150 that has the shape of a flat circular disk rather than the dome shaped plasma field 150 described in further detail hereinafter.

[00100] Furthermore, the overall diameter of the electrode ring 12A may also be varied inwardly or outwardly to further vary the dimension of the plasma field 150. By shaping the electrode ring 12A and varying the relative positions of the electrodes 12 and 14, the plasma field 150 may be varied in its size, shape and overall characteristics.

[00101] Furthermore, the plasma field 150 as discussed in further detail hereinafter is governed by the electromagnetic magnetic field 152 in which it is generated such that the overall construction of the EMF field generator 1 1-1 may also be varied to vary the characteristics of the plasma field 150. In the illustrated embodiment of Figure 1 1 , this EMF field is affected by the positioning of the side plates 153 A as well as the overall field characteristics generated by the specific EMF field generator 1 1-1 including the physical structure of the windings 34-1. The physical structure of the EMF field generator 1 1-1 furthermore may be varied to generate alternative magnetic field characteristics which thereby vary the characteristics and shape of the plasma field 150.

[00102] With the foregoing arrangement, the electrodes 12 and 14 thereby are electrically operated in accord with the circuit diagram of Figure 1 and the disclosure provided above.

[00103] Upon activation of the system 140, a relatively large voltage difference between suspended electrode 14 and circular electrode 12 is initially established in order to initiate a breakdown of the air gap between the two electrodes, thereby initiating generation of plasma. For example, the circular electrode is grounded, while a 150 K.V voltage is applied to the suspended electrode 14.

[00104] At roughly the same time that an initial voltage is applied to electrode 14, the EMF generator 1 1-1 contained within housing 128 is powered up. Consequently, EMF generator 1 1-1 begins to establish an electromagnetic field 152, which is graphically represented in Fig. 12 as magnetic field tenser lines. This electromagnetic field 152 and its characteristics are defined and shaped by the components of the EMF generator 1 1-1 described above relative to Figure 1 1.

[00105] A particle beam begins to emit from the suspended electrode 14 due to the high voltage difference that initially exists between electrodes 12 and 14. In the current embodiment, the tip 15 of suspended electrode 14 is cut or shaped to be flat. As a result, the induced particle beam emits from the side of the electrode tip 15, thereby directing the beam more

perpendicularly into the electromagnetic field 152 generated by EMF generator 1 1-1. If the tip 15 were pointed instead of flat, the particle beam would project more straight down instead of perpendicularly into the electromagnetic field 152.

[00106] The induced particle beam initiates the production of plasma by heating the air and causing the various gas molecules to dissociate and ionize. If no external electromagnetic field 152 was present, the particle plasma beam would generally travel in a straight line from the tip 15 of suspended electrode 14 to a point on the circular electrode 12 located on the surface of housing 128. However, because of the presence of the electromagnetic field 152 generated by EMF generator 1 1 -1, the particle/plasma beam bends as it travels downward and outward to the circular electrode 12. This curved displacement of the particle/plasma beam is explained by the Lorentz Force Law, which prescribes that a magnetic field exerts a force upon an electric charge, such as a charged or ionized particle, as that charge moves through the magnetic field. As a result of these Lorentz forces, such as forces 36 described previously relative to Figure 26, the particle/plasma beam curves as it travels, resulting in the path of the beam to be more circular.

[00107] Plasma begins to build-up as the air continues to heat, resulting in an increasing number of gas molecules to dissociate and then ionize to form free positively and negatively charged particles. Population inversion eventually occurs when the number of particles existing in an excited state (ionized state) exceeds the number of non-ionized particles occupying a lower energy state. The process continues until the plasma has reached a state of near-total popular inversion and ionic saturation, with the number of ionized or charged particles greatly exceeding the number of non-charged particles (e.g., a ratio of eight charged particles to every non-charged particle).

[00108] As near-total population inversion occurs, the plasma beam traveling between the two electrodes 12 and 14 begins to spiral or rotate about the central axis of the EMF generator 1 1-1 , which coincides with the center of the circular electrode 12 and the axis of the suspended electrode 14. This rotation of the plasma beam is again the result of Lorentz forces 36 created by the electromagnetic field 152 acting on the charged particles of the plasma beam. As a consequence of this rotation, the plasma beam generally forms a cone or domed-shaped field of plasma with the electrode 14 being on an initiator side of the plasma and the electrode 12 being on a receptor side.

[00109] Various forces act upon and influence the movement of the generated plasma field. As a result of a balancing of these forces, the plasma field forms a cone or semi-spherical shaped sheet or wall of plasma 150 (Figure 12) that rotates about the central axis 151 of the EMF generator 1 1-1. These various forces will be discussed with reference to Fig. 13, which depicts a cross-sectional view of a stabile, cone or dome-shaped wall of plasma.

[00110] Combined thermodynamic and centrifugal forces 160 acting upon the plasma try to push out and expand the plasma field 150. The thermodynamic forces are the intrinsic result of the heated plasma, and always act to try to expand the plasma field radially outwardly. As the plasma field 150 is rotating, it also is subject to centrifugal forces, which act to also try to expand the plasma field outwardly.

[001111 The electromagnetic field 152 generated by EMF generator 1 1 -1 also creates forces 164 that act upon the plasma. Specifically, the electromagnetic field 152 creates Lorentz forces that act upon the charged plasma particles in a manner that both urge the plasma to expand outward as well as push the plasma in. From another perspective, the Lorentz forces can be seen as trying to position the plasma field along a specific curved plane that coincides with the strongest point of the electromagnetic field 152, thereby imparting greater spatial and

dimensional stability to the plasma field.

[00112] In addition to forces caused by external magnetic fields, the plasma 150 is also subject to forces associated with an intrinsic electromagnetic field generated by the plasma itself. As described by Maxwell's Laws, magnetic forces arise due to the movement of an electrical charge. Specifically, an electric current flowing through the plasma results in the creation of an associated electromagnetic field. This electromagnetic field intrinsic to the plasma leads to the creation of additional Lorentz forces that act back upon the plasma. This phenomenon is generally referred to as the pinch effect, which prescribes that when an electric current is passed through a gaseous plasma, a magnetic field is set up that tends to force the current-carrying particles together. The resultant forces 168 of the pinch effect leads to the plasma to become compressed or contract in upon itself.

[00113] In the above example, a balancing of thermodynamic and centrifugal forces with the various Lorentz forces associated with the intrinsic and extrinsic electromagnetic fields results in a stabile, thin, cone or rod-shaped wall or sheet of plasma 150. Furthermore, the interior of the cone-shaped plasma field 150 not only remains unaffected, but becomes protected by the wall of plasma to thereby define an interior protection zone or space 169 disposed interiorly of or adjacent to the plasma field 150. The system 140 also could be configured with the protection zone being defined by the side of the plasma 150 nearest the electrode 14.

[00114] As previously noted, a sufficiently high enough voltage is initially applied to suspended electrode 14 by voltage initiator supply 18 in order to initiate the formation of plasma. A sufficient amount of current must also be initially provided to electrode 14 by current power supply 16 in order to assure that the plasma field 150 starts off with sufficiently high enough current levels that exceed a predetermined pinch effect threshold. This assures that the plasma field 150 will be subject to the pinch effect from the beginning of its formation, which is necessary for the creation of a wall of plasma around the area 169 while not affecting the interior of the area 169 or articles disposed in this region.

[001 IS] Once initiated, the plasma defense shield 150 can be kept in a steady state with a substantially lower level of voltage at electrode 14. Accordingly, voltage levels at electrode 14 only need to be high for initiation of the plasma defense shield. For example, initiation of a plasma field may require the application of 150 kV at electrode 14, but once the field is formed, it can be maintained with only 800 V at electrode 14.

[00116] As previously discussed, prior systems for electromagnetically confining plasma, such as the tokamak, are designed to work with extremely hot, high-energy plasmas. Furthermore, these previous systems are configured to encourage particle collisions, which results in the generation of even more energy/heat. In contrast, the present invention as described in the embodiment above produces a very efficient plasma field. Specifically, the present invention is able to reach population inversion and ionic saturation levels where current is flowing through the plasma, but the plasma particles are not colliding or interacting with each other. Instead, the plasma particles effectively move/rotate in unison. Compared to prior systems, the present invention creates a stabile plasma field that loses very little energy due to the generation of heat or radiation (i.e., light). Instead, a majority of the plasma energy gets turned into rotational forces. By energizing all the atoms to the same energy level and trapping them with a magnetic field to a very confined area, the plasma mass starts to behave like an armature of an electric motor, with a majority of the energy being applied to "turn the armature" or rotate the plasma.

[00117] Accordingly, the present invention is seen to disclose a system and method for confining plasma by electromagnetic fields. In addition, the disclosed system and method provides for the generation of an efficient and effective defensive shield or "force field", whereby a stable, thin sheet of plasma can be projected around the perimeter of an area much like a wall, while not adversely affecting anything within the interior of the area either physically or electrically. Furthermore, the rapid rotary motion of the plasma particles as well as the density of the field produces a pressure gradient that effectively functions like a solid wall of air through which an object cannot pass without deflection or damage.

[00118] According to one embodiment, a plasma defense shield could be continuously projected around an area needing protection. Alternatively, as previously mentioned, the system could incorporate some form of monitoring system capable of detecting incoming ballistic projectiles. Such a monitoring system may simply involve the constant projection of a very low power plasma field that would be unable to stop projectiles but could be efficiently maintained for long periods of time. As an incoming projectile begins to cross the plasma field, the impedance of the field would fluctuate. A monitoring circuit detects such changes in impedance and, while the projectile was still entering the field, increases the power level of the plasma field to the point where it would effectively function as a defensive barrier. [00119] Alternatively, a plasma-based defensive shield system 200 as described above could be combined with a more elaborate military detection system 202 that is capable of detecting projectiles 204 by various remote monitoring means such as radar. As illustrated in Fig. 14A, such a system would typically keep the plasma-based defensive shield 206 inactive. However, as illustrated in Fig. 14B, upon detection of an incoming projectile 204, the system would activate the shield 206 for a brief period of time, maintaining it until the projectile has impacted the shield and be deflected and/or destroyed. See Figs. 14C and 14D. Once the threat has passed, the system 200 would automatically deactivate the defensive shield 206. See Fig. 14E.

[00120] According to an alternative embodiment of the present invention, the circular or negative electrode 12 could be replaced by any grounded structure, including the earth 210 itself. Such a configuration, as illustrated in Fig. 15, would allow for a more effective and practical means of protecting non-stationary objects, such as a vehicle 212, with a plasma-based defensive shield.

[00121] According to another embodiment, an example of which is also illustrated in Fig. 15, the electrode 14 that is typically positioned above the object being protected could be replaced with a microwave laser or ultraviolet laser 214 or any other means for initiating a plasma field.

[00122] In the embodiments described above, a ring-shaped electromagnet was utilized as the EMF generator 1 1. In such embodiments, only the portion of the electromagnetic field projected above one pole of the magnet is effectively utilized to aid in the containment of the plasma field. However, according to a further embodiment, the ring-shaped electromagnet is replaced with a rod-shaped electromagnet that can be completely contained within the vehicle or object being protected. See the illustrative example of Fig. 16, which depicts a vehicle 230 incorporating a plasma-based defensive shield system. Contained within the vehicle is a rod-shaped

electromagnet 240. When activated, the rod-shaped electromagnet generates an electromagnetic field 242 that projects out from both poles of the magnet 240 and could be used to confine and shape a plasma-based defensive shield around the entire vehicle 230.

[00123] It is also believed possible to project a plasma-based defensive shield around any shaped object in such a manner that the thin sheet of plasma making up the defensive shield closely follows the contours of the object. For instance, the object could be covered in a super conductor "skin" that allowed for the generation of an electromagnetic containment field immediately adjacent the object's surface.

[00124] The primary embodiment above discloses the generation of a defensive shield by establishing a stable, free-standing "wall" of plasma roughly shaped in the form of a cone or cylinder. Thus, according to a prior example, a ground-based vehicle such as a tank could be effectively protected by the generation of a conical-shaped plasma-based defensive shield.

According to an alternative embodiment previously discussed, a more spherical-shaped defensive shield can be generated by a system utilizing a rod-shaped EMF generator. Such a spherical-shaped field may be more appropriate for the protection of flying craft such as an airplane as the defensive shield could completely envelop the plane. Beyond conical and spherical-shaped defensive shields, it is believed the present application can be configured to generate a defensive shield of numerous other sizes and shapes depending on the relative placement of the system components, i.e., electrodes, as well as the size and shape of the external electromagnetic field being utilized to shape and confine the plasma field.

[00125] Beyond three-dimensional shapes, the present invention is also capable of generating a two-dimensional defensive shield. Specifically, a stabile wall of plasma can be

electromagnetically confined to form a flat or planar, disc-shaped defensive shield. Such a shaped plasma field can be achieved by the combined effects of an appropriately shaped external electromagnetic field with, for example, the placement of the two electrodes 12 and 14 within the same plane so that a particle/plasma beam either projects from side to side or radially outward. The resultant disc-shaped defensive shield could be projected across a defined opening or entrance to function as a barrier. Possible uses for a "flat" plasma-based barrier are numerous, and include, for example, a plasma-based "door" or "window" that could quickly be projected into place in order to secure a room or corridor from the passage of physical objects as well as atmospheric containment.

|00126] Unlike prior electromagnetic plasma confinement applications such as those found in fusion reactors, the present invention generates a relatively efficient plasma field in which little energy is lost in the form of heat or radiation. As a result of this efficiency, a plasma-based defensive shield in accordance with the present invention can be generated with relatively low power requirements. For example, operation of a small system capable of generating a six inch diameter plasma-based defensive field may require around 500 Watts and could be readily powered by a standard 120 Volt household outlet or other low voltage power source.

[00127J According to another exemplary embodiment, a plasma-based defensive shield system could be configured with some form of projectile detection system, as previously discussed, that is capable of momentarily activating the defensive shield at the appropriate time necessary for deflecting an incoming projectile. In such an arrangement, the defensive shield would typically be inactive, and as such, the system would require little energy. Upon detection of an incoming projectile, the system would only require a burst of energy to briefly project a plasma field capable of deflecting the projectile. In the above arrangement, the system could be powered by a relatively low voltage source by incorporating a Marx generator or other functionally equivalent component that is capable of briefly producing a high energy pulse but be charged by a lower voltage source.

[00128] In a further embodiment, a larger system could be configured to generate a 24 foot diameter defensive shield capable of protecting a land-based vehicle such as a tank. The estimated power requirements for this larger system could be a minimum of 10-15 Kilowatts to generate a stabile field, with the power requirements increasing depending on the mass and kinetic energy of the projectile being deflected. A defensive shield system such as that above could readily be accommodated by a modern-day tank, which typically incorporates generators capable of producing 40-50 Kilowatts.

[00129| Even significantly larger and more powerful plasma-based defensive shields should already be achievable with the current state of technology. As the present invention need only briefly project a stabile wall of plasma in order to protect an object or area from projectiles, the system would require a power source capable of generating pulses of high energy. Such requirements are already achievable with the advent of newer power sources used in applications such as high-end military ratlguns. Once such existing power source, for example, is the compensated pulsed alternator (compulsator), which can produce extremely high amounts of energy for brief periods of time (e.g. 500 Megawatt pulse of energy).

[00130] According to an alternate embodiment, the electrodes are configured to provide a plasma sheet having a tubular geometry of a selectable cross section. A plasma sheet configured in this way is useful for protecting a defined space or object from impact by an energetic body. In the case of a stationary object, such as a fixed structure, the apparatus is fixed in place to surround the stationary object inside a perimeter defined by the plasma sheet. In the case of a mobile conveyance, the apparatus is fixed to the conveyance to move along with it through space.

[00131] As shown in FIG. 17, a perspective view is shown for a tubular configured plasma sheet system 1710 fixed to a mobile conveyance 1700. The system has a top rail 1712 and a bottom rail 1714 that are each fixed to the mobile conveyance 1700 by non-conductive supports 1716. When the system is energized, a plasma sheet 1720 is formed between the top and bottom rails 1712, 1714 and surrounding the mobile conveyance 1700. The plasma sheet 1720 rotates about the conveyance 1700 and along the rails 1712, 1714. Refer also to FIG. 18 for illustration of this. The pair of rails 1712, 1714 has plural linear sections that run parallel to one another. Each of the rails 1712, 1714 of this embodiment can be conceptualized as a series of electrically connected linear elongate rails.

[00132] The direction of rotation of the plasma sheet 1720 is polarity dependent and will shift direction based on the polarity of the electric field between the rails 1712, 1714 or the direction of the current in the coil loops 1912, 1914 (see FIG. 19), which determine the polarity of the magnetic field between the rails 1712, 1714.

[00133] The rails 1712, 1714 are the form the electrodes take for this embodiment, and are made to have a similar shape and to be spaced apart from one another. The shape of the rails 1712, 1714 defines the cross section shape of the tubular plasma sheet 1720. Each of the rails 1712, 1714 has a gap 1812, 1814 to prevent eddy current flow due to Lorentz forces. Each of the rails 1712, 1714 also provides mechanical support to hold in place a respective coil loop 1912, 1914 (see FIG. 19).

|00134] Referring to FIG. 19, the coil loops 1912, 1914 alone are shown schematically, with arrows to indicate the directions of current flow through the loops. The current flows in opposite directions in the two loops. This results in the two loops 1912, 1914 having a unified direction of magnetic flux 1920 between the rails 1712, 1714.

[00135] Operation of this embodiment is according to a three-mode paradigm: Off/Detect/On. The "Off mode leaves the system powered down under low threat risk circumstances. The "Detect" mode provides a low power consumption operation when threat risk is elevated, providing switching to the full "On" mode upon detection of an incoming energetic object or overpressure wave. The "On" mode is triggered on a pulsed basis when a need for a full power barrier is detected. Detection is effected optionally by any of various methods, including

(without limitation) Doppler radar, impedance sensing, and hysteresis. Hysteresis is an elegant use of the avalanche current conduction effect that occurs when an object approaches the plasma sheet and itself initiates an avalanche of charge carriers. Impedance sensing is accomplished via any of several optional means, including RF resonance triggering, changes in conductance between wire conductors, and changes in conductance across metal tape.

[00136] A schematic diagram of an "On" mode circuit for practice of this embodiment is shown in FIG. 20. Powering of the electric field across the plasma aperture PA is made by closing of a normally open plasma switch S|, which releases the charge stored in capacitor d to flow through tuned inductor Li and the plasma aperture PA. Powering of the magnetic field by the field coil L2 is made by closing of a normally open augmentation field switch S2, releasing the charge stored in capacitors C2 and C3 to flow through the field coil L2. As an example, and without limitation, the capacitors C2, C3 of the augmentation field circuit are selected to have a value of 3300 μΡ, and rated to handle 900 V. As further illustrative examples, the inductor Li has a value of 8 μΐι and the field coil L2 has an inductance value of 4.4 μΐι. The relative timing of the closing of the switches S|, S2, at respective times Ti, T2, is sequenced by a common timing circuit upon triggering from the "Detect" mode.

[00137j According to an alternate embodiment, the system is configured to provide a field sweep plasma sheet that moves back and forth, rather than moving in a single direction.

Referring to FIG. 21, an electrode and field coil exemplary configuration is shown according to this swept field embodiment. A plasma sheet 2100 extends between the electrodes 21 10, 2120 and through the magnetic field generated by the field coil 2130. Reversal of the direction of the movement of the plasma sheet 2100 is effected by reversing the magnetic field via reversal of the driving current in the field coil 2130. Using a sinusoidal driving current for the field coil 2130 causes an alternating reversing of the plasma sheet movement as indicated by the opposed arrows.

[00138] Referring to Fig. 22, an alternative embodiment is illustrated that has applicability in a marine environment. According to this embodiment, the electric field electrodes 2210, 2220 are oriented as vertical bars. Orienting the electrodes 2210, 2220 this way is useful in a marine environment to provide a barrier against energetic ingress. The vertical orientation of the electrodes 2210, 2220 compensates for impedance effects near the water's surface. The placement of the field coil 2230 is similar to that described in other embodiments. Examples of situations where this would be useful are adjacent a dock, or along the size a mobile conveyance on water. The orientation of the bars vertically helps to maintain a plasma in a situation where the proximity to water would affect the impedance around the bottom one of a pair of

horizontally oriented electrodes.

(00139] Another application of the present invention is embodied as an air filtration system. Referring to FIG. 23, an air filtration embodiment is shown in perspective with a plasma sheet being formed across an air-handling duct with a radial plasma sheet configuration. A circular outer electrode 2310 is mounted in a non-conductive length of air duct 2320, with a pin electrode 2330 mounted at about the center of the duct. A magnetic field coil 2340 is mounted about the non-conductive air duct 2320 and adjacent the outer electrode 2310. Molecular nitrogen and molecular oxygen in the air move through the plasma sheet, freely dissociating and re- associating on the downstream side of the filter. Contaminants such as dust and pathogens are dissociated to an atomic level upon impact with the plasma sheet without the ability reconstitute downstream of the filter.

[00140] Referring to FIG. 24, an air filtration embodiment is shown in perspective with a plasma sheet being formed across an air-handling duct with a field sweep plasma sheet configuration. A pair of horizontal electrodes 2410, 2420 are mounted in a non-conductive length of air duct 2430. A magnetic field coil 2440 is mounted about the non-conductive air duct 2430 and adjacent the electrodes 2310, 2320. As with the preceding filter embodiment, nitrogen and oxygen pass through the filter little altered, whereas dust and pathogens are obliterated.

[00141] Referring to FIG. 25, an air filtration embodiment is shown in perspective with a plasma sheet being formed across an air-handling duct with a tubular plasma sheet configuration. A pair of elongated loop electrodes 2510, 2520 is mounted in a non-conductive length of air duct 2530. A pair of magnetic field coils 2540, 2550 are mounted about the electrodes 2510, 2520 and adjacent the air duct 2530. Operation of the plasma generator of this embodiment is analogous to that of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 17-20. As with the filter embodiments of FIGS. 23 and 24, nitrogen and oxygen pass through the filter little altered, whereas dust and pathogens are obliterated. This embodiment differs from the preceding filter embodiments in that the sheet of plasma is doubled back across the air-handling duct 2530 due to the tubular plasma sheet configuration. This provides a double filter action.

[00142] While particular embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that the invention is not limited to the particular embodiments shown and described and that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

Claims

CLAIMS What is claimed is:
1. A method of creating a free-standing wall of plasma, comprising the steps of:
initiating the formation of plasma that flows through a space between a first location that is defined by a first vertically oriented elongate electrode and a second location that is defined by a second vertically oriented elongate electrode which is spaced from and substantially parallel to said first vertically oriented elongate electrode;
generating an electromagnetic field externally of said plasma that acts on said plasma during said formation of said plasma at said first location wherein said electromagnetic field has Lorentz forces associated therewith which effect rotation of said plasma through said space about an axis; and
balancing of thermodynamic forces and centrifugal forces acting upon the plasma with Lorentz forces associated with said electromagnetic field acting upon the plasma so as to confine said plasma in such a manner so as to form a sheet-like structure extending between said first and second locations.
PCT/US2013/057095 2004-09-03 2013-08-28 System and method for plasma generation WO2014036147A1 (en)

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Citations (7)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3039014A (en) * 1960-07-05 1962-06-12 Chang Chieh Chien Superfast thermalization of plasma
US5198181A (en) * 1990-04-09 1993-03-30 Jacobson Jerry I Stabilizing plasma in thermonuclear fusion reactions using resonant low level electromagnetic fields
US20030006707A1 (en) * 2001-03-19 2003-01-09 The Regents Of The University Of California Controlled fusion in a field reversed configuration and direct energy conversion
US6664740B2 (en) * 2001-02-01 2003-12-16 The Regents Of The University Of California Formation of a field reversed configuration for magnetic and electrostatic confinement of plasma
US20060278340A1 (en) * 2005-06-13 2006-12-14 Lam Research Corporation, A Delaware Corporation Confined plasma with adjustable electrode area ratio
US7574974B2 (en) * 2002-06-04 2009-08-18 Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique (Cnrs) Device for production of a plasma sheet
US7679025B1 (en) * 2005-02-04 2010-03-16 Mahadevan Krishnan Dense plasma focus apparatus

Patent Citations (8)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3039014A (en) * 1960-07-05 1962-06-12 Chang Chieh Chien Superfast thermalization of plasma
US5198181A (en) * 1990-04-09 1993-03-30 Jacobson Jerry I Stabilizing plasma in thermonuclear fusion reactions using resonant low level electromagnetic fields
US6664740B2 (en) * 2001-02-01 2003-12-16 The Regents Of The University Of California Formation of a field reversed configuration for magnetic and electrostatic confinement of plasma
US20060267505A1 (en) * 2001-02-01 2006-11-30 The Regents Of The University Of California Magnetic and electrostatic confinement of plasma with tuning of electrostatic field
US20030006707A1 (en) * 2001-03-19 2003-01-09 The Regents Of The University Of California Controlled fusion in a field reversed configuration and direct energy conversion
US7574974B2 (en) * 2002-06-04 2009-08-18 Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique (Cnrs) Device for production of a plasma sheet
US7679025B1 (en) * 2005-02-04 2010-03-16 Mahadevan Krishnan Dense plasma focus apparatus
US20060278340A1 (en) * 2005-06-13 2006-12-14 Lam Research Corporation, A Delaware Corporation Confined plasma with adjustable electrode area ratio

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