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Draw labelled sketch of TWT. Give two applications.

Subject: Advance Communication System

Difficulty: Medium

Marks: 4 marks

1 Answer
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TWT or traveling-wave tube amplifier is a specialized vacuum tube that is used in electronics to amplify radio frequency (RF) signals in the microwave range.The TWT belongs to a category of "linear beam" tubes, such as the klystron, in which the radio wave is amplified by absorbing power from a beam of electrons as it passes down the tube.

TWT is a special type of vacuum tube that offers an operating frequency ranging between 300 MHz to 50 GHz.

The movement of an electron inside the tube permits the amplification of applied RF input. As it offers amplification to a wide range of frequency thus is considered more advantageous for microwave applications than other tubes.

Fig: Traveling-wave tube (TWT):- enter image description here

As we can see from the above figure the helical travelling wave tube consists of an electron gun and a slow-wave structure. The electron gun produces a narrow beam of the electron. A focusing plate is used that focuses the electron beam inside the tube.

A positive potential is provided to the coil (helix) with respect to the cathode terminal. While the collector is more positive than the coil (helix). In order to restrict beam spreading inside the tube. A dc magnetic field is applied between the travelling path by the help of magnets.

The signal which is needed to be amplified is provided at one of the ends of the helix, present adjacent to the electron gun. While the amplified signal is achieved at the opposite end of the helix.

In the figure, we can clearly see that attenuator is present along both the sides of the travelling wave tube. This is so because travelling wave amplifiers are high gain devices, so in case of poor load matching conditions, oscillations get build up inside the tube due to reflection.

Thus in order to restrict the generation of oscillations inside the tube attenuators are used.

A major advantage of the TWT over some other microwave tubes is its ability to amplify a wide range of frequencies i.e. a large bandwidth. The bandwidth of the helix TWT can be as high as two octaves, while the cavity versions have bandwidths of 10–20%

Applications of TWT:-

  • TWT is used in microwave receivers as a low noise RF amplifier.
  • TWTs are also used in wide-band communication links and co-axial cables as repeater amplifiers or intermediate amplifiers to amplify low signals.
  • Continuous wave high power TWTs are used in Troposcatter links, because of large power and large bandwidths, to scatter to large distances.
  • TWTs are used in high power pulsed radars and ground based radars.
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