Modulator Design and Development

Coordinating university or institute

Lund University,



Project description

ESS will be the world’s most powerful neutron source. This source has at its heart a linear accelerator which fires protons at a tungsten target, producing the powerful neutron beam. The linear accelerator is fed, at the first stage of the powering chain, by 33 modulators which have to deliver, each one, 11,5 megawatts peak and 600 kilowatts average power, at a rate of 14 pulses per second. While this should be possible by scaling up standard technology, it quickly became clear that there was not enough budget and space. Furthermore, the impact of such huge amount of pulse power in the local electrical power network in Lund municipality would have been seriously affected by flicker and harmonic distortions.
The research group, led by Carlos Martins, performed critical work together with the power converter team at ESS, designing, testing and commissioning critical parts for the ESS modulator following a novel topology. The final engineered solution reduced budgeted costs of modulator components by 70% and the space requirements by 80%, while factors like reliability, the quality of both the output pulse and of the power absorbed from the electrical network reached unprecedented performance.




Lund University, Faculty of Engineering:

  • Carlos Martins, Senior lecturer, power converters high-voltage modulator design, Industrial electrical engineering and automation
  • Mats Alaküla, Professor, power converters highvoltage modulator design, industrial electrical engineering and automation
  • Max Collins, Doctoral student, Industrial electrical engineering and automation
  • Avo Reinap, Assistant professor, power converters high-voltage modulator design, Industrial electrical engineering and automation

Core deliverables

  • High voltage power electronics
  • Power converters for physics applications
  • New solid state high power modulator system design
  • High voltage pulse transformer design
  • Complete prototype system design and construction
  • Test, commissioning and verification
  • Full system design specifications, build-to-print instructions, procurement documentation, follow up of series production contract

Industry involvement

AQ Elautomatik, Herman Anderssons Plåt, Plåtmekano, Carlsson & Möller

Total budget

EUR 1.2 million


Procurement codes

Electrical Engineering and magnets
Electronics and radio frequency
Mechanical Engineering and raw materials

Last edited