Anda di halaman 1dari 8

Cockcroft-Walton Voltage Multiplier

Jim Emery

Edited 8/23/13

Contents
1 The Nobel Prize to Cockcroft and Walton for Particle Ac-
celeration 1

2 The Cockcroft-Walton Accelerator 2

3 The Villard Doubler Circuit 2

4 The Greinacher Doubler Circuit 5

5 The Cockcroft-Walton Voltage Multiplier Circuit 6

6 Video Tutorial by David Jones EEVblog 7

7 Voltage Multipliers 7

8 The Multiplyer Circuit 8

9 Other High Voltage Machines 8

10 Bibliography 8

1 The Nobel Prize to Cockcroft and Walton


for Particle Acceleration
In 1951, British physicists John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton, were awarded
the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in the use of accelerated parti-

1
cles to study the atomic nucleus. They used an early particle accelerator
which generated high voltage electric fields using a voltage multiplier, a cas-
cade of capacitors and rectifiers. These high voltage generators are called
Cockcroft-Walton voltage multipliers and are used today to generate high
voltage electrostatic fields for such applications as laser printers and copiers.

2 The Cockcroft-Walton Accelerator


From a document from the American Institute of Physics:
http://www.aip.org/history/lawrence/epa.htm
The Cockcroft-Walton Accelerator
John D. Cockcroft and Ernest Walton at the Cavendish Laboratory in
Cambridge, England, sought a way into the nucleus through a prediction of
quantum mechanics. George Gamow had suggested that a particle with too
little energy to overcome the electrical repulsion of the nucleus through the
barrier. (The trick was that the energy of the particle was not actually well-
defined, according to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle). In 1930 Cockcroft
and Walton used a 200-kilovolt transformer to accelerate protons down a
straight discharge tube, but they concluded that Gamow’s tunnelling did not
work and decided to seek higher energies.
To penetrate the nucleus, Cockcroft and Walton built a voltage multiplier
that used an intricate stack of capacitors connected by rectifying diodes as
switches. By opening and closing switches in proper sequence they could build
up a potential of 800 kilovolts from a transformer of 200 kilovolts. They used
the potential to accelerate protons down an evacuated tube eight feet long. In
1932 they put a lithium target at the end of the tube and found that protons
disintegrated a lithium nucleus into two alpha particles. A Soviet team in
Kharkov found the same result several months later.
The original Cockcroft-Walton voltage multiplier used mechanical switches
in place of rectifiers, which I thing is what we see in the machine on display
at the London Museum of Science.

3 The Villard Doubler Circuit


The input voltage to this circuit is an alternating voltage of amplitude V .
This could be a sinusoidal AC voltage, or a square wave voltage. The capac-

2
A B C D E

2V 4V 6V 8V

Figure 1: Voltage Multiplier Circuits. Upper left: The Villard Dou-


bler Circuit. Upper right: The Greinacher Doubler Circuit. Lower: The
Cockcroft-Walton Voltage Multiplier Circuit. The Cockroft-Walton Multi-
plier is constructed by repeatedly adding
3 the circuit elements shown in the
center. The voltages at points A, B, C, D and E are stepped voltages. The
output voltages at the bottom nodes are DC voltages. The ideal voltage at
the extreme lower right node is a DC voltage of 8V , where V is the amplitude
of the input AC voltage. The minimum of the stepped voltage at E is 6V ,
the maximum 8V .
A B C D E

2V 4V 6V 8V

Figure 2: Voltage multiplier circuit.

4
itor in this circuit will charge to a positive DC voltage of ideal magnitude
V volts. To see this consider that the the capacitor is uncharged. When
the voltage at the upper right node is positive the diode blocks any current
flow. But when this voltage becomes negative the diode is forward biased
and positive current flows through the diode and through the capacitor from
the right eventually charging the capacitor to V volts. So there will be a
permanent voltage on the capacitor of V with the right side positive with
respect to the left side. The capacitor cannot discharge because of the diode
in the circuit. Consider the lower node of the AC source voltage to be the
ground or reference voltage. In this condition going in a clockwise loop, there
is a negative voltage -V across the supply, and a positive voltage V across
the capacitor giving a net voltage of −V + V = 0 volts at the right hand side
of the capacitor with respect to the reference point. Now when the supply
voltage switches to plus V volts we get an output voltage at the right hand
side of the capacitor of V + V = 2V volts. So we have a doubled voltage
output with respect that of the ordinary output DC voltage of a simple rec-
tifier. But the output voltage is stepped going from a minimum of 0 volts to
a maximum of 2V volts. We can get constant DC output of 2V by extending
the Villard to the Greinacher Doubler.

4 The Greinacher Doubler Circuit


The Greinacher Doubler is built from the Villard doubler by adding another
diode and another capacitor. This is shown in the top right hand of the figure.
Recall from the previous section that the output voltage of the Villard circuit
is stepped going from a minimum of 0 volts to a maximum of 2V volts. This
is the signal at the right hand side of the upper capacitor. During the time
that this potential is at 2V volts, charge will flow through the new diode
charging the lower capacitor to 2V volts. So the lower capacitor will become
charged to a permanent positive 2V DC volts with respect to ground, which
is the left hand side of the lower capacitor. The top node above the diode on
the right is at an alternating stepped voltage of a maximum of 2V volts and
a minimum of 0 volts. In the center of the figure in the middle of the page
is a circuit element that will be added repeatedly to the Greinacher circuit
to get the Cockcroft-Walton Voltage multiplied. This is shown in the next
section.

5
5 The Cockcroft-Walton Voltage Multiplier
Circuit
The Cockcroft-Walton Voltage multipler Circuit is shown at the bottom of
the figure. Every calacitor in this circuit will be charged to 2V volts, with
the right of each capacitor positive. Assuming that the AC voltage source is
a square wave, it will have a voltage of a positive V volts and a minimum
of -V volts. Let us call the first stage of this circuit the Greinacher Doubler
circuit. The output of the Greinacher Doubler at the top node which we
call the upper voltage of the first stage is at an alternating stepped voltage
of a maximum of 2V volts and a minimum of 0 volts. And at the bottom
node the constant DC voltage of 2V. We call this output the lower voltage
of the first stage. So the voltages at stage n = 1 is upper: maximum 2nV,
minimum 2(n − 1)V , lower: a constant DC 2nV . We claim that as we add
stages, this result remains true. So in the figure the stage number is n = 4,
so the upper voltage at point E is a maximum 2nV = 8V and a minimum
of 2(n − 1)V = 6V . We will prove the general result by induction.
So our induction assumption is that at the nth stage we have an upper
voltage maximum 2nV, minimum 2(n − 1)V , and at the lower node the
constant voltage is 2nV . Also we assume that each capacitor in the circuit
is charged to 2V volts across each capacitor. Now we wish to connect the
circuit portion shown at the middle of the figure to the end of this circuit
getting the n + 1 stage circuit. We can ignore the previous stages and just
assume that the circuit in the center figure is being driven by a voltage at
its top left node, maximum 2nV , minimum 2(n − 1)V , whereas the bottom
left node is at a constant voltage of 2nV volts. So when the upper voltage is
at 2(n − 1)V and the bottom at 2nV , the left diode is positively biased and
charge flows. Thes charges the upper capacitor to 2nV − 2(n − 1)V = 2V
volts. When the upper voltage is 2nV and the lower voltage is slightly less
than 2nV then charge will flow through the right diode to bring the lower
capacitor to the 2V value. So the upper voltage will become a maximum of
2nV + 2V = 2(n + 1)V and a minimum of 2(n − 1)V + 2V = 2nV . Thus we
have obtained the voltages claimed for the n + 1 stage. So by mathematical
induction we have proved the general result for the ideal n stage Cockcroft-
Walton Voltage Multiplier.
Now the practical nonideal circuit will only approach this result. This
is because we have neglected the the diode voltage drops, the fact that the

6
capacitors will not become fully charged in a finite time, and the affect of a
load which will bleed off charge.

6 Video Tutorial by David Jones EEVblog


David Jones
Baulkham Hills BC
PO Box 7949
Baulkham Hills NSW 2153
AUSTRALIA

EEVblog Number 469 - Cockcroft-Walton Multiplier

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep3D_LC2UzU

In this video the capacitors have values .47µF . A square wave is used
with amplitude from 1 to 10 volts. The frequency is 1 khz to 10 khz. An
oscilloscope with 8 channels is used with a different color for each channel.
He used an agilent oscilloscope.

7 Voltage Multipliers
Voltage multiplier circuits include the Cockcroft-Walton Multiplier, the Vil-
lard Doubler, the Greinacher Doubler, the flyback converter, and several
others.
Circuits using 1000pF capacitors in voltage. See voltagemultipliers.pdf in
pdf directory.
From:

Voltage multipliers : Diodes And Rectifiers - All About Circuits


www.allaboutcircuits.com ... Diodes And Rectifiers?

Little orange capacitors labeled 2700K 5F measured 2.3 nF. Explanation:


2700pF = 2.7nF. Trying to use these in cockcroft walton circuit, but not
working?
Shall try .47µF capacitors.

7
8 The Multiplyer Circuit
This circuit is actually a repeated doubler made of diodes and capacitors.
See the figure.

9 Other High Voltage Machines


The Vandergraff Generator.

The Wimshurst Machine

The Electrophorus

The Tesla Coil

The High Voltage AC Neon Sign Transformer

The Cyclotron

10 Bibliography
[1] Close, Frank, Marten Michael, Sutton Christine, The Particle Explo-
sion, pp 41-43, 1994, Oxford University Press.

[2] Wolf, Adam, Simple Van de Graff Generator, Make Magazine, O’Reilly
Media, volume 28, pp 124-127.

[3] von Slatt, Jake, The Wimshurst Influence Machine, Make Magazine,
O’Reilly Media, volume 17, pp94-107.