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Development of an Electron Gun Design Optimisation Methodology
NSIRC student in the lab with equipment - landscape header image

Development of an Electron Gun Design Optimisation Methodology

Colin Ribton
Brunel University London
Project Title:
Development of an Electron Gun Design Optimisation Methodology 
The design of high quality electron generators is important for a variety of applications including materials processing systems (including welding, cutting and additive manufacture), X-ray tubes for medical, scientific and industrial applications, microscopy, and lithography for integrated circuit manufacture. This research investigates means for implementation of heuristic algorithms to enable the automatic optimisation of the design of electron guns. Electron gun designs typically are analysed by software using a space charge solver that calculates electron trajectories from the cathode through the anode into nominally field-free space. The beam quality can be derived from combined trajectory positions and velocities The many variants of electron gun required, and the increasing demands for highly optimised beam qualities, demands more systematic optimisation methods than offered by trial and error design approaches. The gun design usually is required to meet specified beam requirements for the applications of interest, so within this work beam characteristics from the calculated electron trajectories, for example brightness, intensity at focus and beam angle, were derived and used as a measure of the design fitness-for-purpose. By encoding the electron gun geometry into a genome containing a set of genetic codes, evolutionary algorithms were applied to a population of designs. Evolutionary parameters such as mutation rate, population size and the proportion of the population selected as the gene pool for the next generation were assessed against the efficiency and efficacy of the optimisation process. This novel approach offers great potential for producing the next generation of electron guns.



  • Ribton, C., del Pozo, S., Smith, D. and Balachandaran, W. (2016) 'Applying evolutionary design to plasma cathode electron guns for material processing', 10th International Conference on Beam Technology. Halle, Germany, 20-21 April 2016. Halle, SLV GmbH.       

  • Kaur, A., Ribton, C. and Balachandaran, W. (2015) 'Characterization of high power electron beams using two-slit probe and Wavelet transform', Intelligent Signal Processing Conference. London, 1-2 December 2015. London, The Institution of Engineering and Technology. Available online.   

  • Ribton, C. (2015) 'Development of an evolutionary algorithm for design of electron guns for material processing', 7th International Conference on Evolutionary Computation Theory and Applications. Lisbon, Portugal, SCITEPRESS. Available online.

  • del Pozo, S., Ribton, C., Smith, D. (2014) 'Characterisation of an RF excited argon plasma cathode electron beam gun', 10th International Vacuum Electron Sources Conference. St Petersburg, Russia, 30 June-4 July 2014. New York, NY, USA, IEEE.           

  • del Pozo, S., Ribton, C. and Smith, D. (2014) 'A novel RF excited plasma cathode electron beam gun design', IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, vol. 61, no. 6, pp. 1890-1894. Available online.

  • Ribton, C. (2012) 'Effective design of electron beam processing systems by trending', 10th Anniversary International Conference on Electron Beam Technologies. Varna, 1-4 June 2012. Sofia, Bulgaria, The Institute of Electronics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Available online.

  • Ribton, C. (2012) International Electron Beam Welding Conference 2012 Joining the World Together. Aachen, 26-30 March 2012. Hanover, Germany, DVS GmbH.       

  • Punshon, C.S., Ribton, C.N., Warr, J., Rollinson, K. and Nicholson, B. (2012) 'Forgeman-: Aiming to eliminate through-life inspection of welded nuclear pressure vessels', Advances in fabrication of pressure vessels and piping systems. London, 28 February 2012. London, Institution of Mechanical Engineers.       

  • Ribton, C.N. and Andrews, R.E. (2001) 'Canister sealing for high level waste encapsulation', International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference. Las Vegas, NV, USA, 29 April-3 May 2001. La Grange Park, IL, USA, American Nuclear Society. Available online.