The Pelletron (a tm of National Electrostatics Corp) is a much improved form of the Van de Graaf generator. It uses a chain of conductive pellets separated by insulating links to replace the belt of a Van de Graaf. The chain allows much higher charging currents and is mechanically more rugged, particularly with respect to sparking. Pelletron actually refers to a whole series of electrostatic accelerators built by NEC with a number of improvements beyond the charging system, like the accelerator tubes, pumping systems, insulation and mechanical structures, etc.
Pelletron usage has greatly increased in the last few decades with materials science applications being quite popular.
A review paper on Pelletrons (by the man who invented them) is: Herb, R.G. "Pelletron Accelerators for Very High Voltage", Nuclear Instruments and Methods, v. 122, pp 267-276, 1974
And of course, another resource would be the manufacturer: National Electrostatics Corporation
Relevant patents are:
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