Description of a dust particle detection system and measurements of particulate contamination from shock, gate valve, and ion pump under ultrahigh vacuum conditions
Dust particle contamination is known to be responsible for reduced quality and yield in microelectronic processing. However it may also limit the operation of particle accelerators as a result of beam lifetime reduction or enhanced field emission in radio-frequency accelerating cavities. Intrinsic dust contamination from sources such as valves or ion pumps has not yet been studied due to the inability of commercial particle counters to be able to detect across large cross sections under ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions. This motivated the development of the dust particle detector described here which is able to quantify, in situ, the level of contamination on a representative part of a vacuum vessel. This system operates under UHV conditions and measures flashes of scattered light from free falling dust particles as they cross a thin laser light sheet across a 100 mm diam vacuum vessel. A calibration using microspheres of known diameter has allowed estimation of the particle size from the scattered signal amplitude. Measurements of particulate contamination generated by shocks onto the vessel walls are presented and determination of the height of origin of dust particles from their transit time across the irradiation sheet is discussed. Measurements of dust particle release right to operation of an all-metal gate valve are also presented in the form of time resolved measurements of dust occurrence during the open/close cycles of the valve, as well as histograms of the particle size distribution. A partial self-cleaning effect is witnessed during the first 10 operation cycles following valve installation. The operation of an ion pump has also been investigated and revealed that, in our conditions, particles were released only at pump startup. (C) 1998 American Institute of Physics. [S0034-6748(98)03110-4].