Infoscience

Thesis

H- ion source for CERN's Linac4 accelerator: simulation, experimental validation and optimization of the hydrogen plasma

Linac4 is the new negative hydrogen ion (H-) linear accelerator of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Its ion source operates on the principle of Radio-Frequency Inductively Coupled Plasma (RF-ICP) and it is required to provide 50 mA of H- beam in pulses of 600 us with a repetition rate up to 2 Hz and within an RMS emittance of 0.25 pi mm mrad in order to fullfil the requirements of the accelerator. This thesis is dedicated to the characterization of the hydrogen plasma in the Linac4 H- ion source. We have developed a Particle-In-Cell Monte Carlo Collision (PIC-MCC) code to simulate the RF-ICP heating mechanism and performed measurements to benchmark the fraction of the simulation outputs that can be experimentally accessed. The code solves self-consistently the interaction between the electromagnetic field generated by the RF coil and the resulting plasma response, including a kinetic description of charged and neutral species. A fully-implicit implementation allowed to simulate the high density regime of the Linac4 H- ion source, ensuring the energy conservation while maintaining the computational resources tractable. We studied the capacitive to inductive transition characteristic of the initial phase of the pulsed discharge. The simulation results were confirmed by time-resolved photometry measurements and allowed quantifying the effect of the hydrogen pressure and of the external magnetic cusp field on the transition dynamics. This provided insights into possible modifications to the magnetic cusp field configuration to maximize the power deposited to the plasma. The optimal ion source configuration maximizes the density of volume produced H-, the flux of H0 atoms onto the cesiated molybdenum plasma electrode surface at the origin of H- emission, and minimizes the electron density and energy in the beam formation region. We simulated the high-density regime (10^19 m-3) representative of the nominal operation of the Linac4 ion source during beam extraction. We performed a parametric study of the RF current, hydrogen pressure and magnetic configuration (cusp and filter) to assess their impact on the plasma parameters. The simulation results allowed assessment of these parameters and provided guidelines for the optimization of the ion source operational and design parameters. The simulation results of electron density, electron energy and hydrogen dissociation degree showed excellent agreement with optical emission spectroscopy measurements both as a function of RF coil current and magnetic configuration. The outputs of these simulations provide crucial inputs to beam formation and extraction physics models. Dedicated PIC software packages are being developed that will eventually shed insight into essential beam parameters such as the intensity and emittance of the H° beam and the intensity of the co-extracted electrons.

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