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Title: Polarized 3He gas circulating technologies for neutron analyzers

Abstract

We outline our project to develop a circulating polarized helium-3 system for developing of large, quasi-continuously operating neutron analyzers. The project consisted of four areas: 1) Development of robust external cavity narrowed diode laser output with spectral line width < 0.17 nm and power of 2000 W. 2) Development of large glass polarizing cells using cell surface treatments to obtain long relaxation lifetimes. 3) Refinements of the circulation system with an emphasis on gas purification and materials testing. 4) Design/fabrication of a new polarizer system. 5) Preliminary testing of the new polarizer. 1. Developed Robust High-Power Narrowed Laser The optical configuration of the laser was discussed in the proposal and will be reviewed in the body of this report. The external cavity is configured to mutually lock the wavelength of five 10-bar laser stacks. All the logistical milestones were been met and critical subsystems- laser stack manifold and power divider, external laser cavity, and output telescope- were assembled and tested at low power. Each individual bar is narrowed to ~0.05 nm; when combined the laser has a cumulative spectral width of 0.17 nm across the entire beam due to variations of the bars central wavelength by +/- 0.1 nm, whichmore » is similar to that of Volume Bragg Grating narrowed laser bars. This configuration eliminates the free-running “pedestal” that occurs in other external cavity diode lasers. The full-scale laser was completed in 2016 and was used in both the older and newer helium polarizers. This laser was operated at 75% power for periods of up to 8 hours. Once installed, the spectrum became slightly broader (~.25 nm) at full power; this is likely due to very slight misalignments that occurred during handling. 2. Developed the processes to create uniform sintered sol-gel coatings. Our work on cell development comprised: 1) Production of large GE180 cells and explore different means of cell preparation, and 2) Development of apply sol-gel coatings to the interior of both borosilicate and aluminosilicate cells. We applied six sol-gel coatings. By modifying the mixture and developing procedures to drain and dry the cell, we produced visually uniform coatings on the interior of the cells. We now have perfected that process as described below in our report. We were able to accelerate the testing of cells using an ex situ method that avoids installing each cell into a polarizer. In the project’s last year, we conducted 38 external tests of 8 different cells. We also installed two sol-gel coated cells in our polarizers. We created cell with long ex situ relaxation lifetimes, one of which exceeded 40 hours. However, when installed in the polarizer the measured lifetime is 8 hours or less. 3. Demonstrated cycling of polarized gas and ex situ cell testing We are now cycling polarized gas from the polarizer to glass vessels and back. This has allowed us, for the first time, to make ex situ T1 measurements of polarizing cells without installing them into the polarizer itself. This has greatly improved our productivity in producing cells and evaluating our cell preparation processes. We continued development of the gas handling system in parallel with fabricating new polarizer. The integrated system was tested by the end of 2016. We now regularly cycle gas into and out of the polarizer. 4. Completed new polarizer infrastructure and control systems. We completed the new polarizer infrastructure in November 2016. The polarizer subsystems are 1) the frame, 2) the oil flow system, 3) the gas handling system, 4) the pressure vessel, with embedded solenoid, 5) cell mounting hardware with heat spreaders, and 6) electrical power and instrumentation. 5. Carried out initial tests of polarizer. We completed initial testing of the polarizer in April and May of 2017. These tests were carried out for periods up to 6 hours with laser power between 750 and 1300 Watts. The laser performed well and the polarization with asymptotic to 45 percent, which was below expectations. This low value resulted from a stationary thermal inversion in the cell that caused most of the laser power to be absorbed near the laser inlet window and deprived the lower portions of the cell of pumping laser light. Possible solutions to this problem include enhanced cooling of the cell near the laser entry and slight detuning of the laser. 6. Ongoing work. Our polarizer development efforts are ongoing to pursue our interest in neutron analyzers, nuclear targets, and providing helium for medical imaging. Current tests in the pipeline include: 1. Testing cooling enhancements to improve laser penetration of spectrally narrow lasers; 2. Testing of a cell with isolation valves that minimizes diffusive contact with gas handling hardware during polarization; 3. Testing of smaller hybrid cells with reduced alkali loading; 4. Producing polarized helium-3 for MRI imaging at the University of Missouri.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Xemed, LLC, Durham, NH (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Xemed, LLC, Durham, NH (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1395837
Report Number(s):
DOE-XEMED-0006534
DOE Contract Number:
SC0006534
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
72 PHYSICS OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLES AND FIELDS; 73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS; helium-3 polarizer; helium-3; external cavity laser

Citation Formats

Watt, David W. Polarized 3He gas circulating technologies for neutron analyzers. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1395837.
Watt, David W. Polarized 3He gas circulating technologies for neutron analyzers. United States. doi:10.2172/1395837.
Watt, David W. Mon . "Polarized 3He gas circulating technologies for neutron analyzers". United States. doi:10.2172/1395837. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1395837.
@article{osti_1395837,
title = {Polarized 3He gas circulating technologies for neutron analyzers},
author = {Watt, David W.},
abstractNote = {We outline our project to develop a circulating polarized helium-3 system for developing of large, quasi-continuously operating neutron analyzers. The project consisted of four areas: 1) Development of robust external cavity narrowed diode laser output with spectral line width < 0.17 nm and power of 2000 W. 2) Development of large glass polarizing cells using cell surface treatments to obtain long relaxation lifetimes. 3) Refinements of the circulation system with an emphasis on gas purification and materials testing. 4) Design/fabrication of a new polarizer system. 5) Preliminary testing of the new polarizer. 1. Developed Robust High-Power Narrowed Laser The optical configuration of the laser was discussed in the proposal and will be reviewed in the body of this report. The external cavity is configured to mutually lock the wavelength of five 10-bar laser stacks. All the logistical milestones were been met and critical subsystems- laser stack manifold and power divider, external laser cavity, and output telescope- were assembled and tested at low power. Each individual bar is narrowed to ~0.05 nm; when combined the laser has a cumulative spectral width of 0.17 nm across the entire beam due to variations of the bars central wavelength by +/- 0.1 nm, which is similar to that of Volume Bragg Grating narrowed laser bars. This configuration eliminates the free-running “pedestal” that occurs in other external cavity diode lasers. The full-scale laser was completed in 2016 and was used in both the older and newer helium polarizers. This laser was operated at 75% power for periods of up to 8 hours. Once installed, the spectrum became slightly broader (~.25 nm) at full power; this is likely due to very slight misalignments that occurred during handling. 2. Developed the processes to create uniform sintered sol-gel coatings. Our work on cell development comprised: 1) Production of large GE180 cells and explore different means of cell preparation, and 2) Development of apply sol-gel coatings to the interior of both borosilicate and aluminosilicate cells. We applied six sol-gel coatings. By modifying the mixture and developing procedures to drain and dry the cell, we produced visually uniform coatings on the interior of the cells. We now have perfected that process as described below in our report. We were able to accelerate the testing of cells using an ex situ method that avoids installing each cell into a polarizer. In the project’s last year, we conducted 38 external tests of 8 different cells. We also installed two sol-gel coated cells in our polarizers. We created cell with long ex situ relaxation lifetimes, one of which exceeded 40 hours. However, when installed in the polarizer the measured lifetime is 8 hours or less. 3. Demonstrated cycling of polarized gas and ex situ cell testing We are now cycling polarized gas from the polarizer to glass vessels and back. This has allowed us, for the first time, to make ex situ T1 measurements of polarizing cells without installing them into the polarizer itself. This has greatly improved our productivity in producing cells and evaluating our cell preparation processes. We continued development of the gas handling system in parallel with fabricating new polarizer. The integrated system was tested by the end of 2016. We now regularly cycle gas into and out of the polarizer. 4. Completed new polarizer infrastructure and control systems. We completed the new polarizer infrastructure in November 2016. The polarizer subsystems are 1) the frame, 2) the oil flow system, 3) the gas handling system, 4) the pressure vessel, with embedded solenoid, 5) cell mounting hardware with heat spreaders, and 6) electrical power and instrumentation. 5. Carried out initial tests of polarizer. We completed initial testing of the polarizer in April and May of 2017. These tests were carried out for periods up to 6 hours with laser power between 750 and 1300 Watts. The laser performed well and the polarization with asymptotic to 45 percent, which was below expectations. This low value resulted from a stationary thermal inversion in the cell that caused most of the laser power to be absorbed near the laser inlet window and deprived the lower portions of the cell of pumping laser light. Possible solutions to this problem include enhanced cooling of the cell near the laser entry and slight detuning of the laser. 6. Ongoing work. Our polarizer development efforts are ongoing to pursue our interest in neutron analyzers, nuclear targets, and providing helium for medical imaging. Current tests in the pipeline include: 1. Testing cooling enhancements to improve laser penetration of spectrally narrow lasers; 2. Testing of a cell with isolation valves that minimizes diffusive contact with gas handling hardware during polarization; 3. Testing of smaller hybrid cells with reduced alkali loading; 4. Producing polarized helium-3 for MRI imaging at the University of Missouri.},
doi = {10.2172/1395837},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Oct 02 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Mon Oct 02 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

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