A rail-gap switch with a multistep triggering system was developed. The rail-gap switch consisted of two rail-like electrodes and a knife-edge electrode parallel to each other. It was assembled from many pieces and filled with unpressurized-flowing dry air. Good alignments between all electrodes were achieved by using a special jig and the knife-edge electrode as the spatial reference. Furthermore, to trigger the rail-gap switch, a multistep triggering system was used. The triggering system consisted of three components: an optical trigger-pulse generator, a slow high-voltage trigger-pulse generator using an ignition coil for a car, and finally, a fast high-voltage trigger-pulse generator using a three-stage Marx generator. The triggering system generated a negative high-voltage trigger pulse of less than -40 kV with a falling speed of -6.6 ± 0.4 kV/ns. The falling speed was fast enough to initiate multichannel discharges in the rail-gap switch. Finally, the rail-gap switch was tested using a test bench consisting of a 0.5-μF capacitor bank charged to 20 kV. The rail-gap switch was triggered by the multistep triggering system robustly with a delay of 180 ns. The delay between the time, when the peak current of the test bench occurred, and the trigger pulse was 890 ns with a jitter of 20 ns, i.e., ∼2% uncertainty in time. The inductance of the rail-gap switch was ∼80 nH obtained from the discharge tests. The rail-gap switch with the multistep high-voltage triggering system is suitable for any pulsed-power systems with current rise times in the order of 1 μs.
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