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BOOK - Das a. & Ferbel T. - Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

BOOK - Das a. & Ferbel T. - Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

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Published by: Abdullah Al Bari Tusar on Oct 27, 2012
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01/31/2013

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The energy gained by a particle (ion) accelerated in a DC voltage machine is
directly proportional to the applied voltage, consequently, clever construc-
tion of the high voltage source is of crucial importance. That is precisely
what the Van de Graaff generator (named after Robert Van de Graaff)
does. The basic principle relies on the fact that since the charge on any
conductor resides on its outermost surface, if a conductor carrying charge
touches another conductor that envelops it, then, irrespective of its poten-
tial, it will transfer all its charge to the outer conductor. This can be used
to advantage to increase the charge on any conductor, and consequently to
create a higher voltage.
In the Van de Graaff accelerator, charge is carried on a conveyor belt
into a large metalic dome, where it is picked off, as shown in Fig. 8.1. The
conveyor belt is made of insulating material, and goes over motor-driven
rollers (R). A "sprayer" (S), connected to a discharge-voltage terminal,
sprays positive ions to the conveyor belt (electrons go to P). (Basically,
the high voltage ionizes the gas, and the ions are collected on the conveyor
belt.) The points where charges are sprayed or injected onto the belt are
known as corona points. The conveyor belt takes the positive charges up to
the dome, which is maintained at a positive voltage. The energy needed to
do this work is provided by the motors. At the upper end of the conveyor
there is a collector C, which collects the positive charges transferred to
the dome. Typically, this technique can produce accelerating potentials
of up to « 12 MV. (A tandem generator is a modification of the Van de

186

Nuclear and Particle Physics

Graaff generator, where negative ions that enter the accelerating tube from
one side, are first accelerated to the positive HV terminal, where they are
stripped and made positive, and then accelerated as positive ions down to
ground potential on the other side of the terminal. This, effectively, doubles
the acceleration energy to <25 MeV.)

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ion Source

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** ^ __^ Experimental
Target

Fig. 8.1 The principle of a Van de Graaff accelerator.

The Van de Graaff has an evacuated tube through which ions from the
ion source are accelerated to strike the target. This accelerating tube is con-
structed with equipotential metallic rings embedded within the insulated
tube. The entire device operates within a pressurized chamber, containing
some inert gas that does not breakdown easily (often SFe). Normally, the
pressure of the gas inside the Van de Graaff is about 15 atm, and the limit
for the highest energy in such a machine comes from the voltage at which
there is electrical breakdown and discharge in the gas.

Accelerators

187

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