Selected Patents


The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is a treasure trove of information, some useful, some highly impractical and some downright funny. Until recently accessing patents was difficult. You had to find a library that had the patent documents (I used to haunt the Boston Public Library) and then spend hours weeding through the index files, calling up the microfiche documents and then waiting to use a viewer. And, if you wanted to walk away with a hardcopy, that was money in addition to time.

More recently the USPTO has placed all US patents on their Web site. Patents since 1976 are available as text (html) documents and are fully searchable by number, key words, classification, etc. All patents are also available as images (a special form of tiff file) which contain all of the figures, tables in their proper formats, etc. Pre-1976 patents, being indexed images, are searchable only by number and classification.

The purpose of this page is to present topically arranged groups of patents in a series of Acrobat (pdf) documents. They are listed by patent number, title, inventor and date of issue.

Patents are usually rich in references which have to be cited to demonstrate that the particular patent is unique from, or a non-trivial improvement over, the prior art. One patent can lead to 10 or 50 related patents which each lead to even more. Roaming through the cited patents can be fun or frustrating depending upon your point of view. Books and articles are also frequently cited. Conversely, searching on a particular patent number will result in a listing of all later patents that reference that patent.

To view the patent images on the USPTO Web site you must install a special free viewer. Information on, and links to, applicable viewers are noted on the USPTO patent text and image index page (link below). I use the AlternaTIFF plug in which takes only a few seconds to download. It self installs.

The content of this page will grow over time and will not necessarily be restricted to topics directly related to vacuum technology. At this time each of the patent documents is complete. In the works are some topical compendia files which will include just a few pages from a number of patents.

For the readers of this page, if you know of a patent that should be added, please send me an email.

US Patent & Trademark Office Full-Text and Full-Page Image Databases

Gaseous Discharge Neutron Sources (excluding IEC devices)

  • 2,211,668 Electronic Device, Frans Michel Penning, 13 August, 1940
  • 2,967,943 Gaseous Discharge Device, James D. Gow, 10 January, 1961
  • 2,983,834 Neutron Discharge Tube, Leonard Reiffel, 9 May, 1961
  • 2,990,476 Radiation Source, James D. Gow, 27 June, 1961
  • 6,922,455 Gas Target Neutron Generation and Applications, Brian E. Jurczyk, et. al, July 26, 2005

Cold Cathode Ion and Atom Sources (Saddle Field Configuration)

  • 3,784,858 Ion Sources, Joseph Franks, 8 January, 1974
  • 3,944,873 Hollow Cathode Type Ion Source System Including Anode Screen Electrodes, Joseph Franks, 16 March, 1976
  • 5,488,228 Saddle Field Ion Source, Hermann Dobler, 30 January, 1996

Flash X-Ray Devices (Field Emission)

  • 3,883,760 Field Emission X-Ray Tube having a Graphite Fabric Cathode, Thomas C. Cunningham, Jr., 13 May, 1975

Pseudospark and Channel Spark Beam Sources

  • 4,335,465 Method of Producing and Accelerating Electrons and Ions under Application of Voltage and Arrangements Connected Therewith, Jens Christensen, et al., 15 June, 1982
  • 5,576,593 Apparatus for Accelerating Electrically Charged Particles, Christoph Schultheiss, et al., 19 November, 1996
  • 5,028,548 Process and Apparatus for Producing Epitaxial and/or Highly Textured Grown Film, Free of Foreign Phases, of a High Tc-Oxide Superconductor on a Substrate, Christoph Schultheiss, et al., 2 July 1991
  • 4,159,440 Dielectric Guide for Electron Beam Transport, Roger G. Little, 26 June, 1979
  • 7,122,949 Cylindrical Electron Beam Generating/Triggering Device and Method for Generation of Electrons, Mikhail Strikovski, 17 October, 2006
  • 7,183,564 Channel Spark Source for Generating a Stable Focused Electron Beam, Christoph Schultheiss, et al., 27 February, 2007

Plasma Focus Devices

Plasma Ashing Devices

  • 4,804,431 Microwave Plasma Etching Machine and Method of Etching, Aaron Ribner, February 14, 1989. This device, commercialized as the Plasma Preen by Ribner's company, Plasmatics, is based on a domestic microwave oven. Plasmatics does not have a website but the brochure can be viewed here and the manual can be viewed here.

High Voltage Pulse Generators: Cable, Stripline and Spiral (Blumlein type)

  • 3,289,015 Pulse Generator, Richard Anthony Fitch et al., 29 November, 1966

Atmospheric Electric Field Measurement Devices

  • 4,950.978 Atmospheric Potential Measurement Device, Johan A. Govaert, 21 August, 1990
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