High Voltage Power Supplies

Open-source project

The High Voltage Power Supply project, a.k.a. Project Peta-pico-Voltron(*), has been released as an open source project. The website http://petapicovoltron.com contains all the details to assemble the unit, as well as the softwares and firmwares required to control the supplies.

(*) Because Peta*pico=1015*10-12=103, and we are dealing with kilovolts. A bit nerdy if you ask me, but hey, we are a university lab full of engineers, so what do you expect?

Single channel high voltage power supply


Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) are typically driven with high voltage (up to 5 kV depending on thickness), but fairly low currents (typically <100 uA). Most commercial high voltage power supplies (HVPS) are ill-suited for DEAs: they are bulky, heavy, and are often designed for DC output.

We have designed a compact HVPS tailored to drive DEAs. It combines a programmable voltage with a high speed switching stage which allows to quickly switch (~15V/us) the voltage between 0 V and the programmed value (square signal).

The HVPS can be controlled with a user friendly GUI. The parameters can be stored in the unit’s EEPROM memory, which allows to use the HVPS without a computer.

In addition to the minimalistic enclosure (pictured above), which covers the high-voltage side of the HVPS, we also have a complete enclosure (pictured below)

Main features

The SHVPS consists of a programmable high voltage source coupled to a fast switch. The SHVPS can generate a precise output voltage, either continuously (DC mode), or with a square waveform (switching mode).

Programmable voltage source

  • Voltage rating: up to a maximal voltage of 5kV, 3kV, 2kV or 1.2kV (other custom values possible).
  • Voltage set point resolution: 0.1% of full scale.
  • Voltage control modes: Internal (open loop or regulated) or external analog voltage.

Fast switch

  • Three main output modes: DC voltage, square signal, or 0V (off).

  • Square signal:
    High voltage level: programmable voltage. Low voltage level: 0V
    Frequency range: 0.001 Hz to >1kHz.
    Switching slope for 5kV HVPS and full-scale switching: ~15V/us
    Source of switching signal: Internal timer, manual push-button, or external 5V TTL signal.


  • GUI interface providing access to all functions.
    Ability to control several SHVPS in parallel.
    Safety feature to limit the output voltage below a user-defined level.
    Memory function to store parameters in the unit.
  • LabVIEW library with all the necessary functions required to program the SHVPS and to synchronize it with other instruments.
  • Download full datasheet for 5kV HVPS unit

Multi-channel high voltage power supply

Up to 4 single channel HVPS (see above) of any voltage rating can be combined in a single enclosure to form a multi-channel HVPS.

Compared to using 4 single channel HVPS in parallel, grouping them in a multi-channel enclosure allows to:

  • Synchronize the switching between the different channels.
  • Program precise phase shift between the switching of each channel. For example, the DEA rotary motor requires 3 channels with a 120° phase shift.
  • Have a single USB cable to address up to 4 channels


For more information on the LMTS high voltage power supplies:


Samuel Rosset

Samuel Schlatter