Developing a High-Energy EMP Generator: A Work in Progress


In the realm of experimental physics and advanced electronics, creating a high-energy electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generator is an intriguing and challenging project. Combining elements of high voltage, electromagnetic fields, and plasma generation, this endeavor pushes the boundaries of DIY engineering. Here, we document the ongoing journey of developing a prototype EMP generator using a tritium tube, high-voltage electrodes, UV LEDs, and electromagnetic coils.

Project Overview

The goal of this project is to generate powerful EMPs by leveraging the properties of tritium, synchronized high-voltage discharges, and electromagnetic pulses. While the theoretical groundwork is solid, practical testing is still underway, pending the integration of electrostatic generators.

Components and Design

  1. Tritium Tube: At the core is a tritium-filled glass tube (6x100mm). Tritium emits beta particles that ionize the gas within the tube, creating a dense plasma.
  2. High-Voltage Electrodes: Positioned at both ends of the tritium tube, these electrodes will be connected to electrostatic generators capable of delivering brief, high-voltage pulses synchronized at 33.33 Hz.
  3. UV LEDs: Two ultraviolet LEDs are mounted at either end of the tritium tube. These LEDs pulse alternately, illuminating the tritium and further ionizing the gas to enhance plasma formation.
  4. Electromagnetic Coils: Surrounding the tube are coils that generate magnetic fields synchronized with the high-voltage pulses. These fields confine and manipulate the plasma, amplifying the generated EMP.
  5. Control System: An Arduino microcontroller is used to synchronize the pulses from the UV LEDs, high-voltage electrodes, and electromagnetic coils, ensuring precise timing and maximum efficiency.

Prototype Construction

  1. Assembly: The tritium tube is securely mounted inside a protective casing, with the high-voltage electrodes affixed to its ends. The UV LEDs are positioned to directly illuminate the tube, and the electromagnetic coils are wrapped around the assembly.
  2. Enclosure: The entire setup is housed in a metal case connected to the system's ground, serving as an electromagnetic shield and a safety measure against high voltages and radiation.
  3. Connections: A good grounding system is used to ensure minimal signal loss and interference. The control system manages the timing and synchronization of all components.

Current Status and Challenges

The prototype is mostly assembled, and initial tests with the UV LEDs and coils have shown promising results in terms of plasma generation and synchronization. However, the final integration of the electrostatic generators is pending. These components are crucial for delivering the high-voltage pulses needed to complete the EMP generation process.

Future Steps and Applications

Once the electrostatic generators are integrated, the device will undergo comprehensive testing to validate its performance. Potential applications include:

  • Scientific Research: Studying plasma behavior and electromagnetic interactions.
  • Electromagnetic Compatibility Testing: Assessing the resilience of electronic devices to EMPs.
  • Educational Demonstrations: Providing a hands-on tool for teaching advanced physics and engineering concepts.


Developing a high-energy EMP generator is a complex but rewarding project. While the theoretical foundation is strong, practical challenges remain. We invite the Hackaday community to follow this journey, provide feedback, and share their insights. Together, we can push the boundaries of what's possible in DIY electronics and experimental physics.

For detailed schematics, progress updates, and discussion, visit my Hackaday project page 

Join the conversation and contribute to this exciting ongoing project!