Mainland High School
Cutting the Cord: ISTF 07-1726
A Short History of Microwaves
Laurent Cassegrain designed a reflector currently used in microwave antennas and telescopes. 1672  
  1865 James Clerk Maxwell publishes his mathematical model of electromagnetism which united electricity and magnetism into one field of study and introduced the concept of electromagnetic waves.
Karl Ferdinand Braun discovers the point-contact rectifier effect in his work with galena crystals, a semiconductor material composed of lead sulfide. In 1897 he invented a cathode-ray oscilloscope, and in 1898 he was responsible for improving Marconi's transmitter to increase the range of wireless signals. 1874  
  1888 Henrich Hertzís spark gap radio transmitter shows experimental evidence of radio waves.
Nikola Tesla builds what is now known as the Tesla coil and experiments with radio power transmission in Colorado Springs. 1899  
  1900 Tesla proposes using radio waves to transmit power instead of high-voltage power lines
Marchese Guglielmo Marconi receives the first wireless transatlantic radio signal from his transmitter in Poldhu, England, to his receiver in Signal Hill, St. John's, Newfoundland. Marconi shared the 1909 Nobel Prize with Ferdinand Braun "in recognition of their contribution to the development of wireless telegraphy." 1901  
  1921 A. W. Hull invents an "electron tube" called a magnetron which could produce up to 15,000 watts of power and could be used as both an amplifier and an oscillator.
Japanese research on magnetrons begins with Kinjiro Okabe and his split-anode magnetron. 1927  
  1935 Oskar Heil proposed and began researching a procedure and apparatus (klystron) for producing short waves.
Metal-semiconductor low voltage rectifying junctions are investigated by Walter Schottky. These later become the building blocks of microwave communications and radar (MESFET) 1938  
  1945 Percy Spencer proposed using Raytheon's expertise in radar to build an oven. He had the backing of Laurence Marshall, Raytheon's founder, who was worried about Raytheon's future after WWII ended. In 1967, the Amana Radarange became the first domestic microwave oven.
Russell and Sigurd Varian at Stanford University using velocity modulations achieve power transmission through their "klystron". They form a company, Varian Associates, and subsequently use their technology in small linear accelerators and airplane "blind landing systems." 1950   1950 U.S. launches Echo I, the first satellite specifically designed for use with microwave communications. Virtually all space communications continue to use microwave signals.
  1955 British researchers Harry Boot and John Randall construct a copper-block "cavity magnetron" with an external anode to efficiently generate 9.8-cm microwaves with over 750 watts of power.
Microwave "repeater" towers used for transcontinental television signals are found to be useful for carrying long distance telephone calls. 1950s
  1963 J. B. Gunn discovers the Gunn Effect wherein microwaves can be generated by applying a steady voltage across an n-type Ga-As semiconductor.
P. E. Glaser proposes and later patents (1971) the idea of a Space-Based Solar Power to beam electrical power from space to the earth with microwaves. 1968  
William C. Brown demonstrates his helicopter powered by microwaves and later patents (3,434,678) his rectenna that converts microwave power to direct current.
A record high of 82.5% microwave/DC conversion is reached at the Venus Site at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Goldstone Facility. 1975  
  1977 United States Department of Energy and NASA began a three year study on the environmental impact of Solar Power Satellites (SPS) in geostationary orbit which would transmit, via microwaves, energy gathered by solar cells to rectennas on earth.
Global Position System (GPS) was developed for military applications 1980s  
  1983 MINIX (Microwave Ionosphere Nonlinear Interaction eXperiment), designed by Hiroshi Matsumato's team at RASC (Radio Science Center for Space and Atmosphere) at Kyoto University, is the first microwave power transmission [2.45 GHz] between two space vehicles in space.
The first microwave powered airplane SHARP makes its first flight in Canada. 1987  
  1992 MILAX airplane experiment verifies the use of active phased array antenna for microwave power transmission.
NASA undertakes the "Fresh-Look-Study" to examine new models for SPS such as the Sun Tower as explained in this presentation by John C. Mankins, NASA Assistant Associate Administrator for Advanced Systems, in 2003. 1995
  1996 Space Qualified Hybrid High Temperature Superconducting/ Semiconducting [7.5 GHz] Low-Noise Downconverter is announced as a new breed of microware component.
European researchers propose a new model for the Solar Power Satellites called the Sail Tower. The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe satellite is launched by NASA to study the intensity of microwave background radiation. 2001   2001 European researchers re-examine the delivery of 10kW electricity to Grand-Bassin on Réunion Island first proposed in 1995.
COMET (COmpact Microwave Energy Transmitter) is developed at RASC. 2003  
  2007 In November a research team headed by Gabriel Rebeiz at the Jacobs School of Engineering UCSD developed the world's most complex 4 x 4 silicon phased-array transmitter chip measuring 3.2 by 2.6 square millimeters.


Canadian Association of Physicists - The Invention of the Cavity Magnetron  (pg 3)

Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences - Space Solar Power for Earth from Earth Orbits and the Moon  (pg 2)

Florida State University - Heinrich Rudolph Hertz

Georgia Tech - Wireless Power Transmission for Solar Power Satellite  (pg 6)

Gizmo Highway Technology Guide - The History of the Microwave

Global Policy Forum - Background on the HAARP Project

Google Patent Search - United States Patent: 3434678

Hammond Museum of Radio - Reginald Fessenden

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Karl Ferdinand Brawn

IEEE Virtual Museum - The Cavity Magnetron

IEEE Virtual Museum - The Future of Microwaves

IEEE Virtual Museum - Microwaves and Telecommunications

IEEE Virtual Museum - Microwaves, Satellites, and the Final Frontier

International Symposium Nikola Tesla - Research Activities and Future Trends of Microwave Wireless Power Transmission  (pg 1)

Invention & Technology Magazine - The Greatest Discovery Since Fire

Joe Craig - Marconi's First Transatlantic Wireless Experiment

JPL/NASA Lewis Research Center - Superconducting/Semiconducting Low-Noise Downconverter

Kyoto University - Radio Science Center for Space and Atmosphere

Microwaves101 - Microwave Hall of Fame (Part I)

Microwaves101 - Microwave Hall of Fame (Part II)

NASA - Statement of John C. Mankins, Manager, Advanced Concepts Studies Office of Space Flight

NASA - The Promise and the Challenge of Space Solar Power  (pg 11)

National Space Society - Space Based Solar Power as an Opportunity for Strategic Security  (pg 10) - The Nobel Prize in Physics 1909

PBS - Tesla Life and Legacy - Colorado Springs

Physicsworld - James Clerk Maxwell: A Force for Physics

Radio Science Center for Space and Atmosphere - History of Microwave Power Transmission before 1980

Radio Science Center for Space and Atmosphere - Japanese Research for a Bright and Clean Energy from Space  (pg 29)

Rutherford Research - Next Generation Field Effect Transitor (FET) Research

Science Daily - World's Most Complex Silicon Phased-array Chip Developed

Science Direct - European Sail Tower SPS Concept

Scitation - Rocket Experiments and Demonstration for Microwave Power Transmission (MPT)

Softpedia - Wireless Power Transmission May Soon Be a Fact

Southwest Museum of Engineering, Communications and Computation - Microwave Oven

SparkMuseum - The Discovery of Radio Waves - 1888

Stanford University - Historical Background and Applications

Thomas Robb - Marconi Receives 1st Transatlantic Radio Signal

UK Office of Communications - Radio Crosses the Atlantic

University of Toronto - Appendix III: GaAs Gunn Diodes

URSI - Microwave Power Transmission Activities in the World  (pg 5, 14)

URSI - The History of SPS Research

USCD Jacobs School of Engineering - Faculty Profile

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