The MK-2 generators function as follows:
A longitudinal magnetic field is produced in between a metallic conductor and a surrounding solenoid, by discharging a battery of capacitors into the solenoid;
After the charge is ignited, a detonation wave propagates in the explosive charge placed in the interior of the central metallic tube (from left to right on the figure);
Under the effect of the pressure of the detonation wave, the tube deforms and becomes a cone which contacts the helically wrapped coil, diminishing the number of turns not short-circuited, compressing the magnetic field and creating an inductive current;
At the point of maximal flux compression, the load switch is opened, which then delivers the maximal current to the load.
The MK-2 generator is particularly interesting for the production of intense currents, up to 108 A (100 MA), as well as a very high energy magnetic field, as up to 20% of the explosive energy can be converted to magnetic energy, and the field strength can attain 2 × 106 gauss (200 T).
The practical realization of high performance MK-2 systems required the pursuit of fundamental studies by a large team of researchers; this was effectively achieved by 1956, following the production of the first MK-2 generator in 1952, and the achievement of currents over 100 megaamperes from 1953.