An apparatus for studying electrical breakdown in liquid helium at 0.4 K and testing electrode materials for the neutron electric dipole moment experiment at the Spallation Neutron Source

T. M. Ito, J. C. Ramsey, W. Yao, D. H. Beck, V. Cianciolo, S. M. Clayton, C. Crawford, S. A. Currie, B. W. Filippone, W. C. Griffith, M. Makela, R. Schmid, G. M. Seidel, Z. Tang, D. Wagner, W. Wei, S. E. Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We have constructed an apparatus to study DC electrical breakdown in liquid helium at temperatures as low as 0.4 K and at pressures between the saturated vapor pressure and ∼600 Torr. The apparatus can house a set of electrodes that are 12 cm in diameter with a gap of 1-2 cm between them, and a potential up to ±50 kV can be applied to each electrode. Initial results demonstrated that it is possible to apply fields exceeding 100 kV/cm in a 1 cm gap between two electropolished stainless steel electrodes 12 cm in diameter for a wide range of pressures at 0.4 K. We also measured the current between two electrodes. Our initial results, I < 1 pA at 45 kV, correspond to a lower bound on the effective volume resistivity of liquid helium of ρV > 5 × 1018 Ω cm. This lower bound is 5 times larger than the bound previously measured. We report the design, construction, and operational experience of the apparatus, as well as initial results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number045113
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Volume87
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation

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