Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

High-Power Magnetron for microwave and terahertz radiation generation

Technology #4369

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Ronald M. Gilgenbach
Managed By
Keith Hughes
Assistant Director, Physical Sciences & Engineering 734-764-9429
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

High-Power, Low-Cost terahertz (THz) Magnetron

A highly efficient, low-cost magnetron capable of generating THz radiation with watts of output power has been developed using a simple planar geometry. THz generation is difficult to achieve with conventional emission techniques such as semiconductor diodes or atomic transitions. To achieve high power THz emission, YAG laser and non-linear crystal systems have traditionally been required, which are both space and cost intensive. While magnetrons have been well developed and are generally low cost, conventional geometries have severely limited output power in the THz spectrum. The development of this recirculating planar magnetron (RPM) by University of Michigan researchers has potential to be an economical THz source that could enable emerging technologies where space and cost are concerns.

THz Radiation Engineering and the RPM

The THz spectrum possesses the capability to improve security systems, chemical spectroscopy and medical imaging with benefits that include an ability to penetrate luggage, a means of detecting unique chemical signatures, and a safer imaging energy than x-rays. The RPM can aid development in these areas by mitigating common problems associated with conventional cylindrical magnetrons, which include low output power due to limited anode area and electron loss due to the required bias configuration. The RPM’s electron and THz radiation recirculation in conjunction with its planar geometry, increases efficiency and output power while maintaining adequate heat dissipation. The planar platform simplifies fabrication and reduces the overall size and the RPM design decouples the anode-cathode gap spacing from the number of cavities, enabling more relaxed design constraints. With far reaching applications and many benefits over traditional THz sources, the RPM is a promising candidate for enabling THz technologies.

Applications and Advantages


  • Chemical spectroscopy
  • Airport security
  • Package screening
  • Medical imaging
  • Personal Area Network (PAN) communication


  • Output powers in watt range
  • Ease of fabrication
  • Decouples anode-cathode gap size from cavity number
  • Thermal management
  • Electron and radiation recirculation