The discovery of pyroelectric X-ray generation in 1992 by Brownridge has led to a recent surge of interest in the use of the pyroelectric effect as a means of producing useful radiation. By heating or cooling a pyroelectric crystal such as lithium tantalate (LiTaO3) in a vacuum, a potential on the order of 100 kV can be generated. This potential is great enough to eject electrons from the crystal for the production of characteristic or bremsstrahlung X-rays, or to cause field ionization near a tip mounted to the crystal. By using the combined fields of two polarized crystals, the acceleration potential can be doubled, with one crystal acting as a particle emitter and the other crystal serving as a target. Such a paired-crystal system was used to generate X-rays with energies of greater than 200 keV, and can be used to fluoresce the K shell of thorium (Z = 92). An alternative use of pyroelectric sources is the field ionization of a dilute gas. If the positively-charged crystal is used to ionize a deuterium gas, and the target crystal is coated with deuterated target, the deuterium ions can be accelerated into the target at high enough energy to cause D-D fusion. Results verifying the production of D-D fusion neutrons from a pyroelectric source will be presented. Future applications of pyroelectric accelerator technology, such as the use of the electron beam for materials testing, will also be discussed.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms|
|Issue number||1-2 SPEC. ISS.|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 1 2007|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics