8-stage Cockroft-Walton/Villard cascade multiplier

Something I’ve crafted for the new X-ray experiments: a half wave, eight stage Cockroft Walton multiplier (or a Villard cascade, whichever name you like), submerged in oil, providing a theoretical maximum output voltage in excess of 220 kV with a maximum supply voltage of 10 kV AC, with headroom.

High voltage multiplier, PartsA bunch of capacitors and rectifiers

Sixteen 2.2nF and sixteen 30mA rectifiers, all rated 30 kilovolts, form the 8-stage half wave multiplier. Capacitors need to be rated for the peak voltage + reserve, diodes 2 times the peak voltage + reserve. In my case, as mentioned above, a theoretical maximum of 10 kV AC root-mean-square can be supplied (10*2*1.41, with a 2 kilovolt headroom). The circuit is quite evident from the wiring below:

High voltage multiplier, WiringWhy not?

Theoretical output voltage (that means, when unloaded, input is a sine wave, frequency is sufficiently high and excluding voltage drops on parts) is then calculated with a simple equation:
Uout = 2 * Uin * sqrt(2) * stages
where 1 stage equals to a pair of 2 diodes and 2 capacitors.

High voltage multiplier, OilGood for frying

Of course, the whole setup needs to be submerged in oil, to prevent arc over and corona losses. I have used transformer oil to be on the safe side. Although clean and de-humidified vegetable or mineral oil will suffice.

High voltage multiplier, Submerged in oilUnder oil, leak test proved negative

If you have taken a look at the wiring above, you can say that the output kilovoltage is positive with respect to ground.
However adding a capacitor extra on the “unused end” allows you to change this polarity, if connected in reverse. In my “lunch box design” such an approach is not possible, because that’d need good insulation; to prevent pairs of terminals from arcing between each other.
If your approach leaks, seal them properly, and not with e.g. hot glue, as certain oils (if not all) dissolve it.

High voltage multiplier, output at 3kV ACFat 8 cm spark at 3 kV, 30VA, 12kHz input

The photo above shows the multiplier, fed with a limited square-wave AC input out of this small driver. At load, the supply voltage of such a purposely-low-powered driver drops to approximately three kilovolts AC, estimated by spark ignition distance. Which is good, as this setup was not made with arcs in mind (30 mA rated rectifiers).
This multiplier is used in the (upcoming X-ray setup), coupled with this ZVS driver and a Soviet 8kV AC flyback.

28cm sparks (200 kV)28 cm sparks (approx. 200 kV)
Input is a ZVS-driver-fed 8kV AC flyback


… and again

10 Responses for 8-stage Cockroft-Walton/Villard cascade multiplier

  1. Anonymous says:

    how to decide the no. of stages to b used

  2. jay says:

    Brilliant results man. I just finished a 10 state multiplier myself. It works great at only 1kHz input. Cant wait to build a higher frequency input!

    I have a question: have your caps ever degraded / your spark performance degraded over time? Basically I’m curious if running the sparks without a current limiter will damage the caps?

    • Jozef says:


      Drawing sparks won’t harm your caps, but you ought to use diodes with a bigger surge current rating. Some folks use fast 1kV/1A rectifiers (BA159, UF4007 etc) stacked in series as one HV rectifier in the bridge. Of course they’re soaked in something non-conductive, or are rolled inside some plastic tube so the corona losses are minimized.

      As this multiplier was originally planned for more X-ray experiments, my rectifiers were rated 30 mA only.


    • jay says:

      Thanks for the comments. I am currently using 100ma, 30kv diodes. They work great. They have a surge rating of 10A, but I try to keep spark amperage at 5A. I only use a 20KOhm water resistor on the output. Does spark length increase or decrease with increased resistance on the output?

    • Jozef says:

      I presume your 20k resistor is in series with the multiplier output – the output kilovoltage measured at open circuit (“spark jump distance”) won’t be affected much.

    • jay says:

      I think I understand why… since the resistor is open to air on one side, no additional “load” has been attached to the multiplier, so there is no voltage drop.

      Great. Cant wait to make an even larger multiplier.

  3. Deepak kamble says:

    Will You plz let me the the diodes that you have used. as in like UF4007 or 1N4007.

    • Jozef says:

      Those were HVRL300’s. However if you plan to build it for arcing and stuff, you’d better use beefier diodes.

  4. Γεώργιος says:

    Awesome setup I have 20 – 10 amp 100kv diodes ( monster sizes) and i have been wondering what to do with them… now I know!

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