Deuterium-Deuterium Fusion Reactions in the Houghton College Cyclotron
The Houghton College Cyclotron is a miniature particle accelerator that uses two “dee” shaped hollow electrodes, of 15.6 cm radius, to accelerate ions across a gap with an alternating RF potential difference of a few thousand volts at a frequency of 5.831 MHz. As an ion accelerates, an up to 1.13 T magnetic field keeps it on a circular path that spirals outward, allowing the ion to accelerate multiple times using the same electric potential. In this experiment, deuterons were ionized by electrons from a filament and accelerated, with a current of about 20 nA and an approximate energy of 4.8 keV, into a copper target at a radius of 5.54 cm where they embedded themselves. Later deuterons striking the embedded deuterons caused the D(d,n)3He reaction which produced neutrons. A plastic scintillator detector counted the neutrons that penetrated the chamber walls. An increase of 7913±587 counts or 158±12 counts per minute was detected when the beam was turned on. This is a significant milestone for the Houghton College Cyclotron as it is the first nuclear reaction that this cyclotron has successfully generated.