Quantal Energy


Current Research

For more details, have a look at our glossary on the Theory page.

Cold Cathode Technology

Exciting new areas for basic research have emerged in recent years in the area of non-thermionic or 'cold' emission of electrons in gas discharge tubes. This research has enormous potential both to advance current knowledge in plasma physics, and lead to the development of important new technologies. Quantal Energy is actively pursuing original research with custom gas discharge tubes whose construction allows sustained discharges in the abnormal glow region. Important early contributors to work in this area are Friedrich Paschen, whose account of gas breakdown voltages as a function of pressure and electrode spacing is known today as Paschen's Law. The work of scientists Ralph Fowler and Lothar Nordheim provided explanations for field electron emission (FE) of bulk metals and remains a dominant tool for understanding the physics of cold cathodes. Quantal Energy's current work on abnormal glow discharges suggests significant areas of departure from both the Fowler-Nordheim equations and Paschen's Law, anticipating the need for the development of new theory in the area.

Simulations of Gas Discharge

To both corroborate experimental findings and support development of new theory, Quantal Energy is actively involved with numerical simulation of DC gas discharge tubes, using custom computational tools implemented on large scale parallel Linux clusters (N>500). Drawing from existing 2D particle-in-cell (PIC) approaches for modeling gas discharge tubes, QE is developing 3D numerical simulation models capable of showing agreement with known experimental findings, which serve as benchmarks for the models developed. From this basis, the simulation models are then extended to incorporate new theoretical work on cold cathodes, through modification of the underlying mathematical model.

Some of our Tools

Systems Control

For experimental apparatus control we are using National Instrument's LabVIEW (see www.ni.com/labview) to develop programs for automation of experimental runs and data collection. Some of the interface hardware consists of Arduino interface and control boards (see http://arduino.cc/en). For anyone interested in programming control of Arduino boards it is also possible to use the open source free development software found at www.processing.org . For modeling and theoretical exploration of plasma dynamics our team is working with XOOPIC (object-oriented particle in cell*) open source software (see http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu or www.carma.astro.umd.edu for the user's manual). XOOPIC is running in the open-source MS Windows based Linux emulator VirtualBox (see https://www.virtualbox.org/ and www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads). VirtualBox generates a virtual Linux platform in which we run the Ubuntu (v. 12.10) window system and it is this that we run XOOPIC in to facilitate exploratory modeling and code development. Any additional C/C++ code development will take place using the open-source Eclipse IDE (see http://www.eclipse.org). Plots of phase space and various configurations takes place in XOOPIC and MS Excel will be initially used to visualize any data dumps made from XOOPIC.

*Note: this is not to be confused with OOPic or object oriented programmable interrupt controllers.

Pulsed Storage Battery Charging

Pulsed Storage

Since early 2006 the Quantal Energy team has been investigating pulsed power charging as a means to improve performance of off-the-shelf storage batteries. Storage batteries are critical components of many alternative electrical power generation systems whether they be solar, wind, or micro generation sets used at small dam sites. Devices have consisted of systems having mechanical moving parts but others have been built as solid state units having no moving parts. Our team continues to expand its experience with these devices and is in the process of engineering variations in order to optimize observed effects.

Capacitive Storage Banks

Capacitive Storage

Capacitor banks as bulk storage devices associated with alternative generation systems are being examined and designs developed for experimental builds and engineering testing. It is our intention to investigate the feasibility of replacing heavy and expensive battery systems with lighter more durable capacitors that are free of the environmentally unfriendly heavy metals found in many batteries.

Atmospheric Charge

Atmospheric Charge

Atmospheric charge is being examined as a means to initiate operation of alternative generation systems wherever a starter charge is required in a terrestrial power generation application. Atmospheric charge energy densities do not even remotely approach the energy requirements of a modern industrial culture. However in remote locations that require self-sufficiency they are adequate to supply charge accumulation banks that can be subsequently used to initiate start up of devices whose operation is thereafter self-sustaining.

*Please note: None of the listings of patents above in any way represent express or implied contractual agreements with any of the respective patent holders. Each is listed for reference only as an example of the principle being researched.