A system for complete computer control of the important current waveform variables in the operation of pulsed hollow cathode lamps is described and characterized. The system is shown to provide a highly flexible approach for the rapid accumulation of data on lamp operating characteristics. By implementing a simplex optimization technique with the system, it is shown that a selected lamp response (average peak intensity or integrated peak intensity) can be observed as a function of one variable, while all other variables are at values which result in an optimized response. This procedure, which probably could not be carried out without a closed loop system such as that described, avoids the potential difficulties of the one-factor-at-a-time approach. Results are reported for optimization studies of two iron hollow cathode lamps, for a response surface mapping experiment, and for examination of the pulse shapes of iron, calcium, vanadium, and aluminum hollow cathode lamps.

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