Compact nanosecond pulsed power technology with applications to biomedical engineering, biology, and medicine
Pulsed power refers to a technology that is suited to drive applications requiring very large power pulses in short bursts. Its recent emerging applications in biology demand compact systems with high voltage electric pulses in nanosecond time range. The required performance of a pulsed power system is enabled by the combined efforts in its design at three levels: efficient and robust devices at the component level, novel circuits and architecture at the system level, and effective interface techniques to deliver fast pulses at the application level. At the component level we are concerned with the power capability of switches and the energy storage density of capacitors. We compare semiconductor materials - Si, GaAs, GaN and SiC - for high voltage, high current, fast FET-type switches, and study the effects of their intrinsic defects on electrical characteristics. We present the fabrication of BST film capacitors on silicon substrates by pulsed laser deposition, and investigate their potential application to high voltage, high energy density capacitors. At the system level, a nanosecond pulse generator is developed for electroperturbation of biological cells. We model and design a Blumlein PFN (Pulse Forming Network) to deliver nanosecond pulses to a cuvette load. The resonant circuit employs four parallel 100 A MOSFET switches and charges the PFN to 8 kV within 350 ns. At the application level, in order to controllably deliver nanosecond electric pulses into tumors, we have designed, fabricated, and tested impulse catheter devices. Frequency responds, breakdown voltages and effective volumes of catheters are evaluated. With comparison of simulation and experimental results, we further develop dielectric dispersion models for RPMI. This thesis presents a set of strongly interdisciplinary studies based on pulsed power technology and towards biomedical applications. Addressed issues include from fundamental materials studies to application engineering designs that are essential to next generation compact pulsed power technology. The combined research efforts on these issues enable the further development of pulsed power for biomedical, biophysical, and medicine applications.