Electrical and Computer Engineering ETDs


Todd Plichta

Publication Date



The optically powered firing set looks to revolutionize the design of future electrical firing sets. Optically powered devices have many features that make them attractive, such as immunity to noise problems from Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR). Also, optically powered devices provide additional safety to prevent unintended usage and are small in volume in comparison to their electrical equivalent. These advancements have led to the design of a prototype firing set developed at Sandia National Laboratories. The main components are comprised of a miniature photovoltaic array (MPA) that transforms light energy to electrical energy and a capacitive discharge unit (CDU) used to store and deliver the transformed electrical energy to a detonator. In order for this system to be further optimized for implementation into an actual firing set, the output voltage state needs to be controlled and the temperature of the MPA and illuminating source minimized. This thesis reports on the development of an optical firing set model that represents the electrical, optical, and thermal characteristics of the system. A closed loop feedback control system with a PI controller is then developed to control the output voltage state as well as minimizing the MPA and illuminating source temperature.


Electric detonators, Optoelectronic devices, Solar batteries--Industrial applications.


This work was done in support of ongoing programs at Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energys National Nuclear Security Administration under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000'

Document Type




Degree Name

Electrical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Schare, Josh

Second Committee Member

Jordan, Ramiro