Tonight, at Linac Systems LLC, we had “first light” on a 1.5 MeV deuteron radiofrequency quadrupole (RFQ) accelerator. The work at Linac Systems involves particle beams, radiation, high voltage, and hundreds of kilowatts of RF. Needless to say, this job keeps me entertained!
One of the hats I wear in the business is Assistant Radiation Safety Officer, and in that capacity I stayed after hours today to turn on the full system for the first time and characterize the neutron radiation hazard around it. Anyone familiar with Farnsworth Fusors knows that even at 50 keV energy, deuteron beams can be prolific sources of neutrons by the 2H + 2H → 3He + n (Q = 3.3 MeV) fusion reaction. Well, at 1.5 MeV, this reaction is hotter than a greased Jesus! A 1.5 MeV deuteron beam can generate serious quantities of neutrons merely by interacting with background neutral deuterium in the vacuum chamber or deuterium implanted in the Faraday cup at the end of the linac. Below, I present a little video of neutrons being detected at the end of our RFQ.