A mechanical beam isolator uses rod-shaped elements having a Gaussian configuration to interrupt the path of a beam of photons or particles when the time-scale of the needed interruption is of the order of a microsecond or less. One or more of these rods is mounted transversely to, and penetrates through, a rotating shaft supported by bearings. Owing to the Gaussian geometry of the rods, they are able to withstand much higher rotation speeds, without tensile failure, than rods having any other geometrical shape.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.