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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

UV Ionizer for Neutral Wind Mass Spectrometers

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Current neutral particle instrumentation relies on hot cathode filaments or an electron gun for ionizing the target medium.  These ionization sources represent a potential Achilles Heel since such sources may require substantial power.  This effort seeks to evaluate a commercially available 240-nm (5.17-eV) UV LED as an efficient, low-power ionizer for use in 2D neutral wind mass spectrometer instrumentation and for laboratory source applications.

The objective of this project is to develop and validate the efficiency and reliability of a prototype ionizer — that employs commercially available 240-nm (5.17-ev) UV LEDs — similar to that presented in Figure 1 — that would then be integrated into a 2D neutral wind mass spectrometer with a form factor applicable to platforms from CubeSat upward.  This effort will result in the development of [basically] a self-contained ion “source” that will mount onto an existing vacuum system containing beam diagnostic instrumentation.  This instrumentation will allow for the characterization of the resultant ion “beam” thereby allowing for determination of ionization efficiency as a function of UV LED intensity and power consumption.

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Technology Maturity (TRL)

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