An impulse generator is an electrical apparatus which produces very short high-voltage or high-current surges. Such devices can be classified into two types: impulse voltage generators and impulse current generators.
High impulse voltages are used to test the strength of electric power equipment against lightning and switching surges. Also, steep-front impulse voltages are sometimes used in nuclear physics experiments. High impulse currents are needed not only for tests on equipment such as lightning arresters and fuses but also for many other technical applications such as lasers, thermonuclear fusion, and plasma devices.
Most commonly used form of Impulse generator is the Marx generator, after E. Marx who first proposed it in 1923. This consists of multiple capacitors that are first charged in parallel through charging resistors by a high-voltage, direct-current source and then connected in series and discharged through a test object by a simultaneous spark-over of the spark gaps. The impulse current generator comprises many capacitors that are also charged in parallel by a high-voltage, low-current, direct-current source, but it is discharged in parallel through resistances, inductances, and a test object by a spark gap.
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