Assembly Begins for New Tungsten ExperimentsDecember 8, 2016
LPPFusion’s research team started to re-assemble our experimental fusion device, FF-1 at the beginning of December to prepare for new experiments with pure tungsten and a shorter electrode. The first step is to coat part of the 10-cm long tungsten anode with indium, a soft metal. The indium will be squeezed against narrow circular ridges in a steel plate to form an excellent electrical contact. The combined assembly will then be mounted at the center of the FF-1 device, attaching the new anode to the electrical circuit that powers the device. The next steps will be mounting the tungsten cathode, sealing up the vacuum chamber and checking for leaks. Following that, we’ll take the important steps to eliminate oxygen from the electrodes with a bake-out and microwave treatment (see Observations Strengthen Theory).
Part of the preparation for the new experiment involves repairing and upgrading our instruments. Based on discussions with our colleagues in Poland, LPPFusion Research Physicist Syed Hassan has designed and built a self-contained isolation box for our ICCD camera and its battery-based power supplies. The elimination of external power lines will prevent large electromagnetic pulses from disrupting the camera’s operation, as occurred in the last experiment. The ICCD can provide sharp images of the plasma in the device with an exposure time of 0.2 ns (billionths of a second). In addition, work is still underway to repair our residual gas analyzer (RGA), a sensitive instrument used to find vacuum leaks, and to upgrade the operation of our photomultiplier tubes, which detect x-rays and neutrons. All of this takes time—a bit longer than we expected, so our planned experiment is now likely to start in early January. More funding, allowing us to hire more skilled staff, would get things done faster!