The Leader in High-Current ECR Sources.

Ion Sources

_W3V4978_ion source full view copy

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 perfected a commercial-grade version of this technology with unprecedented beam current, reliability and lifetime performance.

We have demonstrated highly reliable operation of these ion sources for over ten thousand hours between several different generations. These sources can operate with a wide range of gases, but have historically been operated primarily with hydrogen or deuterium. Beam currents in excess of 90 mA of deuterium (equivalent to 125 mA of hydrogen) have been demonstrated.

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 (specifications given in table below). A prototype negative ion MWS is currently under construction via a collaboration with Fermilab.


Maximum H+ Current

140 mA

Maximum D+ Current

100 mA

Current Density

Up to 350 mA/cm2

Extraction Voltage

20 – 300 kV

Power Efficiency

~235 mA/kW

Gas Efficiency


Gas Flow Rate

1-5 sccm

CW Operation


Pulsed Operation

Up to 5 kHz

RMS Emittance

<0.2 pi-mm-mrad


> 5 years