Today we tested the electron gun in the chamber, and we detected a negative potential on the Langmuir probe, which means it worked!
Here’s what we did
1) Added a faster-acting fuse to the power supply
We already have a .5 amp fuse to protect the light bulb filament, but this new one takes less time to actually blow once its current rating is surpassed, so if the cathode arcs to the chamber wall and pulls a large current, this fuse will blow quickly, preventing damage to the chamber.
2) Closed the electron gun assembly in the chamber, connected to feed throughs, and set up the Langmuir probe.
3) Powered up the vacuum system.
Because there was so much stuff in the chamber, there was also (presumably) a lot of trapped air which leaked out slowly as we pumped down, so the vacuum wasn’t super deep, but it was deep enough for our purposes.
3) Powered up the e-gun.
The cathode immediately started to glow, amd as we turned up the voltage across the cathode, the Langmuir probe started to register a negative potential.
We could not get potential on the Langmuir probe unless we powered up both the cathode and the accelerator, so we concluded that it must be the result of a beam.
There were also a couple of other interesting things we noticed.
Changes in the voltage of the accelerator did not seem to affect the beam intensity. We brought the potential on the accelerator from +500 down to ~+250, and got similar readings on the Langmuir probe.
Changes in the voltage (and current) to the cathode do affect beam intensity. We found that the greatest value we could get on the probe was about -12 volts, using about 90 to 100 volts AC across the cathode. As we kept increasing the cathode voltage/current beyond that, the Langmuir probe started heading towards zero, until the fuse blew.
We don’t know what is causing this.
Another cool thing we noticed was the effect the electron gun had on the vacuum. Leaving the beam at maximum intensity caused the vacuum meter to show increased pressure. We were literally filling vacuum space with electrons.
Weird to see the the materiality of electrons demonstrated in such a concrete way.
But all that aside, this is a big step for us. From here, getting that electron beam shining into the center of the Polywell shouldn’t be too hard. If we succeed in that and document our results, we will have performed real, original research on the Polywell design. If we can get the potential well deep enough, maybe even do Polywell fusion.
So let me reiterate, FUCK YEAH