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Proceedings Paper

Coulomb repulsion and the electron beam directed energy weapon
Author(s): Michael W. Retsky
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Paper Abstract

Mutual repulsion of discrete charged particles or Coulomb repulsion is widely considered to be an ultimate hard limit in charged particle optics. It prevents the ability to finely focus high current beams into small spots at large distances from defining apertures. A classic example is the 1970s era “Star Wars” study of an electron beam directed energy weapon as an orbiting antiballistic missile device. After much analysis, it was considered physically impossible to focus a 1000-amp 1-GeV beam into a 1-cm diameter spot 1000-km from the beam generator. The main reason was that a 1-cm diameter beam would spread to 5-m diameter at 1000-km due to Coulomb repulsion. Since this could not be overcome, the idea was abandoned. But is this true? What if the rays were reversed? That is, start with a 5-m beam converging slightly with the same nonuniform angular and energy distribution as the electrons from the original problem were spreading at 1000-km distance. Could Coulomb repulsion be overcome? Looking at the terms in computational studies, some are reversible while others are not. Based on estimates, the nonreversible terms should be small - of the order of 0.1 mm. If this is true, it is possible to design a practical electron beam directed weapon not limited by Coulomb repulsion.

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 September 2004
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 5420, Modeling, Simulation, and Calibration of Space-based Systems, (3 September 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.537967
Show Author Affiliations
Michael W. Retsky, Electron Optics Development Co. LLC (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5420:
Modeling, Simulation, and Calibration of Space-based Systems
Pejmun Motaghedi, Editor(s)

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