What is inside Hope’s particle accelerator?

The particle accelerator at Hope College is a 1.7 MV tandem accelerator that is capable of creating hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, and oxygen ion beams. This week major maintenance was scheduled to determine the location of a small sulphur-hexafluoride leak on the main tank. With creative vacuum leak chasing techniques,  we determined that the location of the leak was a worn out gasket on the stripper-gas control drive rod feedthrough (as pictured below – right). Also shown below (left) is the opened terminal and accelerating tube.

Left: Miguel Castelan Hernandez (Hope ’23) cleans inside the accelerator terminal tank while Dave Daughtery, Hope College Machinist, cleans and inspects the Van de Graaff chain. Right: Close-up picture of the control rod drive. The control rod drive controls the amount of Nitrogen gas that is fed into the center of the terminal to strip electrons off of accelerating ions.
Bethany Dame (Hope’23) and William Vance (Hope’24) prepare to move the accelerator column back into the terminal tube.

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