A liquid metal droplet injector was explicitly designed for the Hybrid Illinois Device for Research and Applications Material Analysis Test-stand (HIDRA-MAT) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to prepare liquid metal plasma-facing components (PFCs) for plasma exposure. The design goals were to create a compact, reliable, and robust design that could apply liquid metal droplets in-vacuo to a variety of samples. The injector was designed for liquid metal use, and results discussed pertain to lithium. The injector can produce lithium droplets of consistent size by utilizing programmable piston movement. Droplet formation data is presented for four different piston step sizes (0.125 mm, 0.25 mm, 0.5 mm, and 1 mm) at three different nozzle temperatures (185 °C, 230 °C, and 270 °C). Droplets are formed on the injector nozzle tip and a linear shift mechanism vertically translates the droplet to the substrate for application. This design prevents the droplet from inadvertently detaching off the nozzle and falling to the sample. Application of the liquid metal droplet ensures placement consistency on the substrate and helps avoid damage to components in HIDRA-MAT that should not interact with liquid metals. A description of the liquid lithium droplet creation and application results is given and provides additional insight into the cooling and oxidation of lithium droplets under vacuum conditions. A second nozzle was fabricated and demonstrated repeatability in droplet diameter creation having a variance of ±0.14 mm for droplets created from the same number of piston steps. The end-use for the injector on HIDRA-MAT is to apply liquid metals to PFCs and expose them to HIDRA's plasma with subsequent intershot in-vacuo surface analysis in HIDRA-MAT for plasma-material interaction studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- General Materials Science
- Mechanical Engineering