Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


Date of this Version



PHYSICAL REVIEW A 88, 060701(R) (2013)

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.88.060701


©2013 American Physical Society. Used by permission.


We describe the operation of a prototype polarized-electron source. Rubidium vapor, contained in a cell, is optically pumped in the presence of a buffer gas. Unpolarized electrons from a tungsten filament are injected into the cell and extracted after undergoing spin exchange with the Rb atoms. We compare the performance of the source when different buffer gases are used. We measure a decrease in electron polarization as their injection energy increases, but find an unexpected regime at higher injection energies yielding increased electron polarization accompanied by a 40-fold increase in current, suggesting the production of slow secondary electrons in the target cell. With ethylene, we have measured electron currents of 4 μA simultaneously with electron polarizations of 24%. This work offers the promise of a simple, benchtop, “turnkey” source of polarized electrons.