As part of our extensive preparation for our planned experiments with beryllium electrodes, LPPFusion Research Physicist Dr. Syed Hassan has completed the first phase of several major upgrades to our laboratory. The phase involved moving our oscilloscopes, trigger-pulse generators, data computer and other critical electronic equipment into a shielded Faraday cage (Figure 1). A Faraday cage is an enclosure completely surrounded by metal conductors that can shield out radio-frequency electromagnetic waves.
Figure 1. Dr. Syed Hassan presses the trigger button to test connections on the newly-installed Faraday cage protecting the oscilloscopes, data computer and several instruments.
The cage is needed to shield the equipment from the powerful RF pulse that our FF-1 fusion device produces when it fires. Up to now, we have relied on the big Faraday cage of copper mesh that lines the walls, and ceiling of FF-1’s experimental room (X-room), plus multiple layers of shielding on the cables in the main room where our oscilloscopes are located. Even with many of the signals carried out of the X-room by optical fibers (which can’t pick up the RF noise) we still had noise problems with some of the instruments. The better performance we expect with the beryllium electrodes will lead to still more noise, so we needed to upgrade the RF shielding. With the new Faraday cage, we now expect a great reduction in the noise picked up by our instruments and the oscilloscopes that record the data.
Dr. Hassan and LPPFusion Chief Scientist Eric Lerner are also working on the other major upgrades needed before the beryllium experiments. This includes reinforcing the spark-gap switches to improve their reliability and to cut down on maintenance. It also includes installing the glove box and other safety equipment needed to handle the beryllium electrodes and the decaborane fuel. These preparations are expected to continue throughout the summer, with the new experiments currently planned to start in early September. While we know how eagerly everyone is anticipating these experiments, careful preparations, even if slow, are the best guarantee of success.