An ion source has an extraction system configured to produce ultra-short ion pulses, i.e. pulses with pulse width of about 1 .mu.s or less, and a neutron source based on the ion source produces correspondingly ultra-short neutron pulses. To form a neutron source, a neutron generating target is positioned to receive an accelerated extracted ion beam from the ion source. To produce the ultra-short ion or neutron pulses, the apertures in the extraction system of the ion source are suitably sized to prevent ion leakage, the electrodes are suitably spaced, and the extraction voltage is controlled. The ion beam current leaving the source is regulated by applying ultra-short voltage pulses of a suitable voltage on the extraction electrode.