Photonics News

Pulse Generators in Ignition and Combustion Research

In recent years, the need for precision system timing in combustion research applications has been on the rise. An increase in aerospace and high-speed applications means that researchers need to be able to implement their protocols in a way that can be controlled down to the nanosecond. Thus, older, and more simple timing units are being exchanged for ones with greater timing resolution, more channels, and more internal memory recall slots. These features allow the system to repeat critical ignition sequences and more accurately record the exact moments of combustion. This is critical to many applications such as spectroscopy, aerospace ignition, and launch planning.

Technology to Meet the Need

Working with these applications is the Quantum Composers 9520 Pulse Generator. This unit has up to 8 fully independent channels to allow the synchronization of multiple ignitors or components. It also has a high storage capacity and memory recall for changing the sequence parameters for different tests. The timing resolution is 250ps which further promotes precision in a clean square wave pulse.

Examples of Applications Featuring this Technology:

This paper by Army and University researchers highlights the main question asked in many of these studies: can high precision in timing and ignition source lead to improvements over conventional spark discharges? Is the proof in the timing? The following papers show that if pulse generators and lasers operating in the nano or picoseconds are added as the ignition source, a higher quality flame and combustion sequencing can be obtained.

The first paper introduces a unique system setup for a high-quality repeatable ignition sequence. In other studies, using a similar system, researchers were able to go further by linking a high number of instruments to create an array for ignition. In this case study, the University of Florida's aerospace division studied flame kernel ignition by linking two 9520 Pulse Generators to form a single multiplexing unit with ten varying pulses from one output.

From these complex ignition patterns, other researchers could then focus on whether such a system could be modified by different ignition sources.

In the study of CO2 dilution by the University of Oregon researchers were able to take a closer look at the redistribution factors. This study used pulse generators to synchronize higher speed cameras to the ignition instruments. Or in the case of this study by the University of Notre Dame, dual lasers and system components were all linked to the pulse generators to determine whether the addition of the laser was able to improve flame growth.

Regardless of the area being studied, in ignition and timing applications, it is clear that the use of more precise and better-aligned system components creates an opportunity for industry growth.

Research such as this requires a compact, pulsed laser like this DPSS Nd:YAG Laser and a high-speed system synchronizer such as these Pulse Delay Generators by Quantum Composers. Additionally, the opportunity to work closely with a smaller company can offer the extra benefit of more system customization and integration support.

More information about Quantum Composers can be obtained by contacting