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Optically-pumped spin-exchange polarized electron source

Munir Hussein Pirbhai, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Polarized electron beams are an indispensable probe of spin-dependent phenomena in fields of atomic and molecular physics, magnetism and biophysics. While their uses have become widespread, the standard source based on negative electron affinity gallium arsenide (GaAs) remains technically complicated. This has hindered progress on many experiments involving spin-polarized electrons, especially those using target gas loads, which tend to adversely affect the performance of GaAs sources. A robust system based on an alternative way to make polarized electron beams has been devised in this study, which builds on previous work done in our lab. It involves spin-exchange collisions between free, unpolarized electrons and oriented rubidium atoms in the presence of a quenching gas. This system has less stringent vacuum requirements than those of GaAs sources, and is capable of operating in background pressures of ~1mTorr. Beams with ~24% polarization and 4&mgr;A of current have been recorded, which is comparable to the performance obtained with the earlier version built in our lab. The present system is however not as unstable as in the previous work, and has the potential to be developed into a "turn-key" source of polarized electron beams. It has also allowed us to undertake a study to find factors which affect the beam polarization in this scheme of producing polarized electrons. Such knowledge will help us to design better optically-pumped spin-exchange polarized electron sources.

Subject Area

Atoms & subatomic particles

Recommended Citation

Pirbhai, Munir Hussein, "Optically-pumped spin-exchange polarized electron source" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3604778.