# How to accelerate ions at home?

1. Jul 9, 2011

### Panthera Leo

How to accelerate ions at home???

I am really interested in accelerating some metal ions at home but don't really know where to start...

I am willing to reach 30 keV... Is it even possible???

Are there any alternative ways of doing this other than using accelerators???

Many thanks for your contributions :)

2. Jul 9, 2011

### Antiphon

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

Start by stopping. You'll need lots of specialized equipment and safety is a big deal here.

3. Jul 10, 2011

### Panthera Leo

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

How about using my electric furnace which can climb up to 1200 C...

Can't I make a plasma with some adjustments within the crucible to act like an accelerator...???

BTW I am just curious... so I won't do anything hazardous :)

4. Jul 10, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

You can make a plasma at home fairly easily given the right equipment, but it depends on what exactly you want to do with them. A simple plasma ball can be bought at the store, but it has inert gasses, not metal ions.

5. Jul 11, 2011

### Panthera Leo

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

I am willing to implant some metal ions on silicate wafer through diffusion... but diffusion is just soooooooooooo slow... I was thinking of making a plasma to accelerate the diffusion process...

Is it possible?

6. Jul 11, 2011

### daveb

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

You'll have to deal with regulatory laws if you're in the US (I'm not familiar with laws in other countries) if you'll be making a radiation generating device that fits the definition in the regulatory laws. These are regulated by the radiation protection agency of the state you live in rather than the NRC, so I would look those up to see if what you ultimately build is defined as a radiation generating device.

7. Jul 11, 2011

### nasu

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

If you accelerate the ions then you have an accelerator, don't you?
I won't worry about radiation. I think that the more difficult part is to create the free ions. To accelerate them you can use some configuration of electrodes. Look up for example the configuration of a mass spectrometer used to monitor vacuum chambers.
By the way, do you have a good vacuum system at home?

8. Jul 12, 2011

### Panthera Leo

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

Yes, by definition its an accelerator :)

I am thinking of making the free ions by a gas burner and creating a plasma, which could act as the ion source...

and yes, I can arrange a good vacuum system... but what I am most worried about is the accelerating part. What are the constituents of the accelerator?

Thanks again

9. Jul 12, 2011

### nasu

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

The constituents are some plates or grids connected to various voltage sources, depending on the complexity of the system.
You can get an idea about the basic principle here, for example. See section "Ionization process within the source".
http://www.physics.utoronto.ca/~phy326/mass/massspec.htm [Broken]

That diagram shows a setup that both ionizes and accelerate the ions.

Again, the problem is obtaining ions. Do you propose to use a gas burner to obtained iron in vapor state?
Ionization of the gas can be done easier with an electron beam. To ionize iron atoms you need an energy of about 8 eV. Electrons can be accelerated to that energy with a potential difference of 8 V.
To obtain the same effect by thermal ionization, you need very high temperatures. (average thermal energy at room temperature is about 1/40 eV).

It may be a better approach to use a volatile iron compound as a starter.

Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
10. Jul 12, 2011

### Panthera Leo

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

I highly appreciate your informative reply:) Many thanks indeed.

As you have mentioned using thermal ionization is very very very difficult.
I was thinking of boiling Ferric chloride which boils at roughly 300 centigrade.
Upon further heating a plasma might form and act as the ion source... & bombarding my wafer-target with this accelerated plasma.

Is this scenario possible from your point of view??? Because I have no idea if its going to work or not...

Thanks again :)

Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
11. Jul 12, 2011

### Redbelly98

Staff Emeritus
Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

I don't believe you. You'll need a vacuum of 1 millionth of an atmosphere, or less.

12. Jul 12, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

Is that not doable on a small scale at home?

13. Jul 12, 2011

### Redbelly98

Staff Emeritus
Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

In theory, yes. But if you have zero experience with vacuum systems yourself, and nobody to show you in person how to do it, I don't believe it will happen.

EDIT: More to the point, this is not the kind of thing you learn to do by asking questions in an internet forum, even this one.

Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
14. Jul 12, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

I understand. I've been "building" a Fusor at my house, but in reality I don't even have the slightest clue of which size fittings to use, what all the numbers mean, and etc for my vacuum system.

15. Jul 12, 2011

### nasu

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

The ferric chloride is corrosive and maybe toxic too. I would not mess up with it at high temperature.

I thought that is OK to discuss this on a theoretical, in principle, basis.
As it was pointed out already, it is not clear what do you mean by "at home" and what is your experience. Maybe you don't want to disclose it but then it's not fair to expect detailed help on internet.
Anyway, I did use a high vacuum system and ion beam generator but I don't have any experience in building either one.

To create ion (or atom) beams you need a vacuum system with at least two stages (preliminary pump and either diffusion pump or ion pump).

Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
16. Jul 13, 2011

### Panthera Leo

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

You are right... I am an undergrad student of material science and very interested in modifying optical properties of minerals. I have chosen the optical modifications of crystalline minerals as my research project & for the sake of simplicity & cost, I have chosen silicates such as Quartz. All sorts of modifications can be acheived via substitution of metal ions like Fe into lattice points. The quartz samples are cut in 1mm thick wafers ready to be processed. I will be taking spectra of the samples before and after the process, & do all my best to find the theoretical quantum mechanical reason behind the changes in the spectra :)

Most industries are using diffusion furnaces for such modifications. But its a very slow process as you know. So I started asking some of the ion implantation labs and prices were completely out of my range for a single sample they were asking around 1.5grand...!!! & I have at leaset 10 samples to study. My father is certainly not giving me 15 grand... lol :)

My father's friend has an industrial workshop equipped with gas & electric furnaces, burners, vaccum system and most importantly safety equipment and people who handle toxic material everyday. They can assist me in this research of mine. The problem is they are mechanical engineers and acceleration of ions in mini ion implantation type setup is quite new to them.... This is the reason for using the term "at home", so that I can get info on minimal requirements.

I appologize for not making it clear at first place :)

Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
17. Jul 13, 2011

### f95toli

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

I seriously doubt that the vacuum system used in an industrial workshop will be anywhere near good enough.
For something like this you would probably need a vacuum of at least 10^-7 mBar. This is not difficult to achieve if you have the right equipment, but the right equipment is quite expensive (a basic turbo pump system would be about $10K-$15K or thereabouts; and that would still not be good enough).

You also need someone to show you how to clean the system, bake it etc (which is non-trivial).

So no, this is not something you can DIY. You need quite a lot of money to buy the right equipment.

Btw, \$1K per sample, sounds quite reasonable to me.

18. Sep 15, 2011

### mheslep

Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
19. Sep 15, 2011

### xts

Re: How to accelerate ions at home???

30keV metal ions is something not extremely difficult (maybe not at home, but in undergraduate lab it would be pretty achievable) - you may make it in van de Graaf accelerator (or just fixed potential linear accelerator of 30kV) in even not so perfect vacuum - if the intensity of the beam is sufficient enough it would sweep out remnaints of gas.

(don't do it at home - 30kV experiments _really_ should be done with supervision of someone experienced with such voltages!)

But more important question is - what do you want to do with those 30keV ions, as you already have them accelerated?

That is not an analogue of 'build a gun and go to shooting range or shoot to coke cans' - any making sense experiment utilizing 30keV ions interactions is probably much more difficult to design and implement than 30keV accelerator.

ADDED>
I see you want to make some ion implantation. That is pretty much more difficult than pure accelerating of ions. You must then focus them properly, keep the beam intensity on a well defined stable level, keep the vacuum at even higher standard to avoid other ions to get implanted, maybe more difficulties may occur (I have some experience with accelerators, but not with ion implantation technology). I really doubt if it is possible to make it on undergraduate low budget constraints.

@Nasu: the link you've posted is dead.

Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
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