Monona, Wis. – Phoenix Nuclear Labs (PNL) announced today that it was awarded a $1M grant from the Department of Energy (DoE) to design and build a high current negative hydrogen ion source. This technology will advance the state-of-the-art in high-energy physics research, medical isotope production, semiconductor manufacturing, and nuclear fusion energy. The award duration is 2 years and is a Phase II project through the SBIR program. 

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PNL will modify ion source technology that it currently uses in its core neutron generator technology. By making proprietary modifications to this positive deuterium ion source, it is possible to transform this technology into a negative hydrogen ion source. The DoE is particularly interested in this technology as a possible ion injector to a next-generation, intensity frontier $1B+ particle accelerator being developed at Fermi National Laboratory. Negative hydrogen ions are needed to drive this system, and PNL’s solution offers unprecedented ion beam current and system lifetime. 

“The technology being developed in this project is truly at the cutting edge of international high energy physics research and will improve mankind’s fundamental understanding of how the universe works,” said Evan Sengbusch, PhD, VP of Business Development for PNL. “The fact that PNL was selected through an extremely competitive bid process to build a candidate critical component of a billion-dollar-plus experiment is a tremendous compliment to the PNL engineering team and validates the expertise PNL has developed over the last nine years.” 

The project will take place at PNL headquarters in Monona, WI. Collaborators include Fermi National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and TechSource, Inc. In addition to having near term applicability to large-scale physics research within the DoE National Laboratory complex, the resultant technology will also be attractive for immediate commercial use in medical cyclotrons and semiconductor manufacturing. Longer term, this ion source could play a key role in realizing abundant, clean, nuclear fusion energy.