Pulsed Power as an Enabling Technology for Cellular Manipulation and Cancer Treatment

By Allen Garner

Nuclear Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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Pulsed power, which involves accumulating electrical energy over a relatively long period of time and then using specifically designed switches to apply it to a load over periods of time that can be as short as hundreds of picoseconds.  These unique capabilities to deliver electric pulses of various durations and intensities leads to multiple commercial and military applications.  Pulsed power is an enabling technology for high power microwave sources, which are used in military radar systems nonlethal defense technologies, such as Tasers.  Pulsed power is also a critical component of the Navy’s railgun program, in which electromagnetic forces replace conventional chemical propellants for ordnance. Ongoing research explores the application of pulsed power for biomedical applications, including athermal sterilization of milk, water, and juices, cancer treatment, permeabilization of cells and tissues for drug delivery, and even wound healing.  This lecture will provide a general overview of these topics from a technical perspective and the relationship to military applications.


Allen Garner Allen Garner received a B.S. in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois, and two master’s degrees — one in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan, and the second in electrical engineering from Old Dominion University. He earned his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan.

His research interests include biomedical applications of pulsed power and plasmas, plasma physics, pulsed power, high power microwaves, and theoretical biophysics.

Before joining Purdue, he was an electromagnetic physicist at GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY, 2006-2012. From 1997 to 2003, he was an active duty Naval officer, serving onboard the USS Pasadena, and teaching the Prospective Nuclear Engineering Officer course. He currently serves as a Lieutenant Commander is the U.S. Navy Reserves.

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Course: Power and Energy, Onshore and Afloat

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Allen Garner (2016), "Pulsed Power as an Enabling Technology for Cellular Manipulation and Cancer Treatment," https://nanohub.org/resources/25314.

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