Journal article

Efficient, highly selective laser isotope separation of carbon-13

We recently demonstrated an original approach to highly selective laser isotope separation of carbon-13 that employs vibrational overtone pre-excitation of CF3 H together with infrared multiphoton dissociation [O.V. Boyarkin, M. Kowalczyk, T.R. Rizzo, J. Chem. Phys. 118, 93 (2003)]. The practical implementation of this approach was complicated by the long absorption path length needed for the overtone excitation laser beam. In the present work, we employ a low overtone level for the pre-excitation that shortens this pathway, facilitating engineering of the process. We propose an optimal configuration of the isotope separation scheme and consider a realistic example of a separation unit for isotopic enrichment of carbon-13 to 94–98%. The photon energy expenditure of 97 eV per separated atom is much lower than that of the current commercial laser technology, making this process economically feasible.


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