US 3617806 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,642,535 6/1953 Schroeder 250/419 Primary Examiner-J. D. Miller 'Assistant Examiner-Harry E. Moose, Jr. Attorney-J. C. Baisch Inventor Ralph G. Lillevang Apt. 17, Fashion Park, 8335 Washington Blvd., Pico-Rivera, Calif. 90060 Appl. No. 876,238 Filed Nov. 13, 1969 Patented Nov. 2, 1971 ION SWITCH 9 Claims, 6 Drawing Figs.
0.8. CI. 317/4, 250/419 SE Int. Cl. H0lh 36/00 Field 0! Search 317/4; 250/413, 4L9
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il /00 0 I ION swrrcn BACKGROUND It is well known that many substances (including solids, liquids and gases) can have their molecules broken up in such a way that the resultant particles have an electrical chargethese charged particles then being known as ions." These ions may have either a positive charge or a negative charge; and, because of their charge, will be influenced by electric and magnetic fields.
These ions, because of their combination of characteristics, (mass, size, charge etc.), have developed a number of interesting uses. These uses include the function of missiles in particle-accelerators, means for measuring trajectories of nuclear particles, so-called ion engines for space vehicles, and--in medicine-the alleged characteristic of producing a feeling of well-being in human beings. As a result of the interest in ions, they have been widely studied; and a number of ion generators" and "ion sources are commercially available. These generally comprise an electric voltage that breaks up the molecule; and include circuitry for discarding the ions with the unwanted electrical charge. In many cases, these ion sources can be incorporated into various pieces of equipment.
OBJECTS AND DRAWINGS It is still another object to provide an ionic switch that is simple, and can carry smallto large electric currents.
It is still a further object to provide an ionic multivibrator. It is afurther object to provide an ionic comparison device.
It is a still further object to provide a variable resistor.
The attainment of these objects and others will be realized from the following detailed disclosure, taken in conjunction with the drawings, of which:
FIG. I shows my inventive concept used as an electrically operated switch;
FIG. 2 shows my inventive concept used as a mechanically operated switch;
FIG. 3 shows my inventive concept used as a variable resistor;
FIG. 4 shows my inventive concept used as a multivibrator;
FIG. 5 shows my inventive concept used as a comparator; and
FIG. 6 shows my inventive concept used as a frequency multiplier.
SYNOPSIS Briefly stated, my disclosed invention comprises an envelope that has at least one input electrode, and one or more output electrodes. One or more control elements are placed adjacent tothe envelope. The envelope contains a cloud of electrically charged ions. During operation, at least one control element is actuated in such a way that it causes the ion cloud to concentrate near a selected output electrode. The operating voltages applied to the envelope cause the ion cloud to produce an output signal at that output electrode; and this output signal is applied to a utilization unit.
The control elements may be used to provide various modes of operation: i.e. switching; the output signals may be fed back to the control elements to provide a multivibrator; the control signals may be used to position the ion cloud at one of a triad of output electrodes to compare the input control signals; the control signals may be used to sweep the ion cloud across a plurality of output electrodes to produce a frequency multiplied output signal; and the control signals may be used to cause a controlled constriction of the ion cloud in order to partially or totally restrict the output signal.
INTRODUCTION THE SWITCH My basic inventive concept will be understood from FIG. 1. This illustrates an ionic device 10 that comprises a hollow, sealed, nonporous container 12 made of an electrically insulative material, such as glass or plastic. Envelope 12 contains a cloud of ions produced by an internal or external generator. An input electrode 14 is sealed into envelope l2; and one or more output electrodes 16, 18 are also sealed into envelope 12. Operating voltages are applied between the input and outi put electrodes. Adjacent to envelope 12 are control elements 20, 22. Although these are shown to be plates, they may take It is a further object to provide an ionic frequency multipli- I other forms.
For simplicity, the following explanation will be presented in terms of positively charged ions, although negatively charged ions may be used.
In FIG. 1, device 10 operates as a switch. Assume, first of all, that the first control element 20 has a positive control signal applied to it. Under this condition, the ion cloud-being positively charged-is repelled by the positively charged control element 20; and is driven toward output electrode 18. The operating voltage causes the ions that are concentrated at output electrode 18 to give up their charge to the electrode, thus forming an output signal. This output signal is applied to utilization unit 24. Due to the fact that there is a copious supply of ions, a large continuous output signal is developed. Thus, a positive control signal applied to control element 20 produces an output signal at output electrode 18.
If the control signal at control element 20 has its polarity reversed, (i.e. becomes negative) the ion cloud is now attracted toward control element 20, and away from output electrode 18. Therefore, the flow of ions to output electrode 18 is terminated; so that there is no longer a signal being applied to utilization unit 24. Thus, a negative control signal applied to control element 20 terminates the output signal at output electrode 18.
Many electric circuits automatically produce simultaneous signals of opposite polarity; i.e. one signal is positive, while the other signal is negative. If such opposite polarity signals are available, one of the signals may be applied to one of the control elements, while the other of the signals is applied to the other control element. This arrangement causes the control elements to coact, that is, one control element attracts the ion cloud while the other control element repels the ion cloud. This double action provides somewhat faster, more responsive results.
It should be noted that device 10 contains two output electrodes, I6 and 18; and it will be recalled from the above explanation that the control signals act to position the ion cloud at either one output electrode or at the other output electrode. Therefore, device 10 can also act as a single-pole doublethrow switch; that is, as one output electrode produces its output signal, the other output electrode terminates its output signal.
When the signals applied to the control elements are reversed, the signal at utilization unit 24 would now be received from the other output electrode.
It should be noted that, if the control signal reversals are properly coded, the output signals would form a binary output signal of the type used by computers, numerically controlled machines, etc.
In this way, device 10 functions as an electrical switch that can either make or break circuits; can cause a given electrode to produce an output signal that corresponds to a particular control signal; can act as a single-pole double-throw switch; and can produce binary output signals.
It will be realized that the foregoing explanation was presented in terms of a control element to which a voltage was applied; the applied voltage either repelling or attracting the ion cloud. Since electric fields are often interchangeable from an operational point of view with magnetic fields, a magnetic field may alternatively be used.
As may be seen, the FIG. 2 arrangement comprises an ionic switch of the type described above; except that control element 20a is shown to be a magnet that is moved toward ionic switch 10a by means of a pushbutton 26; being repositioned by any suitable means, such as a biasing spring 28. In operation, pushbutton 26 is depressed, thus causing magnet 20a to approach closer to the ionic switch 10a. Assume, first, that the magnet is so oriented that its approach to the ionic switch produces an output signal at output electrode 18 in the manner described above. In this way, the disclosed arrangement may be used as a manually or mechanically actuated push-to-make switch. For example, it may be actuated in a cam/cam-follower manner. A compensating control element 29, either electric or magnetic, may be used to reposition the ion cloud during the switchs quiescent state.
By reversing the orientation of the magnet, its approach to the ionic switch would terminate the output signal at output electrode 18-thus producing a push-to-break mode of operation. Alternatively, the magnets approach may be used to produce an output signal at the other output electrode 16 (shown in dotted form). The use of negatively charged ions would, of course, reverse the above-described operation.
Thus, the disclosed ionic switch can operate in a push-tomake mode, in a push-to-break mode, in a single-pole singlethrow mode, and in a single-pole double-throw mode. Moreover, the switch may be actuated manually, or mechanically; or by an electromechanical means such as a solenoid.
THE VARIABLE RESISTOR The disclosed device may also be used as a variable resistor, as illustrated in FIG. 3, wherein the control elements 20b and 22b may be semicylindrical or cylindrical. During the quiescent interval, no control voltage is applied to control elements 20b and 22b; and as a result the ion cloud is diffused uniformly throughout the interior of the envelope 12. Due to the small size of the electrodes, there is a minimal output signal.
When similar positive control signals are applied to control elements 20b and 22b, the ion cloud is squeezed or compacted into the center of the envelope; and progressively more ions find their way to the output electrode, thus decreasing the overall electrical resistance.
THE MULTIVIBRATOR FIG. 4 illustrates how the disclosed device may be used as a freerunning multivibrator, i.e. an electronic arrangement that continually flips between two states. Here, device 30 is similar to those previously described; having an envelope 31, an input electrode 14, and two output electrodes l6, 18. In this illustration, the control elements may be semicylindrical-their effect being the same as previously described.
The operation of device 30 is substantially as described above, with the following difference. At a given instant, the ion cloud is dispersed fairly uniformly throughout the container. On the application of the operating voltage, each output electrode begins to produce an electric current at that electrode. As these output signals flow to the utilization unit, they flow through load resistors 32 and 34.
The passage of electric current through these load resistors causes them to produce voltage drop" signals; and these signals are fed back to respective control elements 20b, 22b. The polarity of the feedback signals is selected to be such as to cause the control elements to repel the ion cloud toward the opposite output electrode, and to thus terminate its own feedback signal. However, since no two circuits can ever be made identically the same, one of the control elements (say 20b) develops a larger charge faster than the other control element 22b. As a result, control element 20b repels the ion cloud, which then concentrates in the vicinity of output electrode 18. Therefore, the output signal at output electrode 16 is terminated; the feedback signal from load resistor 32 is terminated; and the bleed resistor 36 bleeds the ion-repelling charge from control element 20b.
Now the output signal from output electrode 18 increases; the feedback signal from load resistor 34 increases; and control element 22b becomes highly charged with an ion-repelling charge. It, therefore, repels the ion cloud, which concentrates at output electrode 16. As the output signal from output electrode 18 terminates, the feedback signal also terminates, and bleed resistor 38 bleeds the ion-repelling charge from control element 221;.
Control element 20b now develops a charge that repels the ion cloud. In this way, the two control elements and their associated circuitry cause the ion cloud to move back and forth, so that device 30 acts as a free-running multivibrator, with the output signals appearing alternately at the two output electrodes. It should be noted that the multivibrator action can be controlled by the size of the feedback signal, by the size and shapes of the output electrodes, etc.
There are various types of multivibrators; and those skilled in the multivibrator art will readily see how to build other types of multivibrators using the disclosed device.
THE COMPARATOR FIG. 5 shows the device being used as a comparator. Here, device 50 has an envelope 52; and input electrode 14; three output electrodes 54, 56 and 58; and two comparison elements 60, 62, respectively.
The operation is as follows. Assume, first, that two equal amplitude comparison signals are applied to the comparison elements 60, 62. Assume, further, that the signals polarities are such as to create an ion-repelling charge at each comparison element 60 and 62. Thus, the ion cloud is constricted at output electrode 56which produces an output signal. Thus, equal amplitude comparison signals cause the output signal to be generated from output electrode 56.
If no comparison signals are applied to comparison elements 60, 62, they are obviously in an equal condition. Under this no-signal condition, there is no charge to position the ion cloud; and in order to avoid this condition, a pair of compensation elements 64, 66-which are similar to the control elements-are positioned adjacent to envelope 50; and they have a small, ion-repelling charge applied to them. In this manner, the ion cloud is again positioned at output electrode 56 when there are no charges on the comparison elements 60, 62.
Under some conditions, the sizes, shapes and locations of the comparison elements and compensation elements may be such as to interfere or interact with each other. In this case, the element closest to the envelope may advantageously be perforated; or, alternatively, the two elements may be formed into an interdigited array.
Thus, output electrode 56 produces an output signal for conditions of equal comparison signals and no comparison signals. If this ambiguity is undesirable, the compensation elements may be omitted, whereupon the no-signal condition would be operating with a dispersed ion cloud that would produce output signals at all the output electrodes.
If the comparison signal applied to one comparison element (say element 60) happened to have a stronger ion-repelling charge than does the signal applied to comparison unit 62, the ion cloud will be positioned at output-electrode 58, which would produce an output signal. If, on the other hand, the comparison signal applied to comparison element 62 has a stronger ion-repelling charge than does comparison element 60, the ion cloud will be positioned at output electrode 54; and this would produce the output signal.
THE FREQUENCY MULTIPLIER FIG. 6 shows how the disclosed device can be used as a frequency multiplier. Here, device 70 has an input electrode 14; four output electrodes 72, 74, 76 and 78; and control elements 80, 82-shown as coils that produce magnetic fields, rather than as plates.
In operation, an AC signal is applied to one of the control elements (say coil 80). As the control signal goes through the positive portion of its cycle, the ion cloud is moved downward, sequentially producing output signals at output electrodes 72, 74, 76 and 78. As the AC control signal goes through the negative portion of its cycle, the ion cloud is attracted back upwards; and again produces sequential signals from output electrodes 78, 76, 74 and 72. The output signals are combined; and in this way the composite output signal has eight peaks for the two peaks of the control signal. This is, of course, a four-to-one frequency multiplication; but other ratios may be obtained.
Of course, the two control coils 80, 82 may be used simultaneously, in a push-pull manner-as discussed above in connection with FIG. 1.
Depending upon the size, shape, spacing, etc. of the output electrodes, the composite output signal may comprise discrete pulses, or may be smoothed to a higher frequency sinusoidal waveform.
SUMMARY My disclosed invention is a simple relatively cheap device that has many uses in electronic circuitry. lt is small, rugged, cool operating, and requires no attention or maintenance. The envelope does not have to be evacuated; in fact, the pressure of the ion cloud minimizes leakage. My device does not need electron-emitting coating. Moreover, there is no need for a limited life heater.
In this way, my new ionic device provides many advantages not heretofore obtainable.
l. The combination comprising:
an electrically insulative container, said container having therein a first input electrode and at least one output electrode;
at least one control element positioned adjacent said container;
a cloud of constantly replenished ions located within said container; and means, comprising said control element, for concentrating said ion cloud adjacent said control element, for causing said ions to give up their electrical charges to said output electrode for producing an output signal associated with said output electrode.
2. The combination ofclaim 1 including:
a second output electrode and a second control element;
and t means, comprising said second control element, for concentrating said ion cloud adjacent said second output electrode, for causing said ions to give up their electrical charge to said second output electrode for producing an output signal associated with said second output electrode.
3. The combination of claim 2 including:
a first load resistor connected in series with said first output electrode;
a first feedback connection connected from said first load resistor to said first control element;
a first bleed resistor connected to said first control element;
a second load resistor connected in series with said second output electrode;
a second feedback connection connected from said second load resistor to said second control element; and
a second bleed resistor connected to said second control element.
4. The combination of claim 2 including:
a third output electrode positioned between said first and second output electrodes; means, comprising said first and second control elements,
for concentrating said ion cloud adjacent said third output electrode for causing said ions to give up their electrical charges to said third output electrode for producing an output signal associated with said third output electrode.
5. The combination of claim 4 including a compensating element positioned adjacent each said control element.
6. The combination of claim 2 including:
at least one additional output electrode positioned adjacent said first and second output electrodes;
an output connection interconnecting the outputs of all said output electrodes for compositing the individual output signals from said individual output electrodes into a composited output signal; and
means, comprising said control elements, for concentrating said ions sequentially at said individual output electrodes.
7. The combination of claim 1 wherein said control element is a magnet; and actuator means for moving said magnet closer to said container for causing said magnet to control the position of said ion cloud.
8. The combination of claim 7 including a second output electrode; said actuator means being adapted to move said magnet to predetermined positions relative to said container for concentrating said ion cloud adjacent a selected output electrode.
9. The combination of claim 7 wherein said actuator means comprises a cam and cam follower, said magnet being mounted on said cam follower.