At the front end of our neutron generators, PNL has developed a very high current microwave ion source (MWS). Many iterations of the MWS have been built at national labs, universities, and private companies over the last two decades. PNL has developed a commercial-grade version of this technology with unprecedented beam current, reliability, and lifetime. The MWS utilizes the electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) process that occurs via the interaction of 2.45 GHz microwaves with a gas in the presence of an 875 Gauss magnetic field. It has a very long lifetime (no disposable components, such as a filament), high current density, high atomic ion species, high gas efficiency, and results in a low-emittance ion beam.
The positive ion MWS is an off-the-shelf accelerator subsystem available from PNL. A prototype negative ion MWS is currently under construction via a collaboration with Fermilab, an American particle physics and accelerator laboratory. PNL’s technologies are being used by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the US Army, the Naval Research Laboratory, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Morgridge Institute for Research, and SHINE Medical Technologies.
PNL has demonstrated highly reliable operation of these ion sources for over 10,000 hours. These sources can operate with a wide range of gases, but they have historically been operated primarily with hydrogen or deuterium. Beam currents in excess of 100 mA of deuterium (equivalent to 140 mA of hydrogen) have been demonstrated.