A carbon source emitting low-energy carbon atoms from a thin-walled, sealed tantalum tube via thermal evaporation has been constructed. The tube is made from a 0.05 mm thick tantalum foil and filled with 12C or 13C carbon powder. After being sealed, it is heated by direct electric current. The solvated carbon atoms diffuse to the outer surface of the tube and, when the temperature rises over 2200 K, the evaporation of atomic carbon from the surface of the tantalum tube is observed. As the evaporated species have low energy they are well-suited for the incorporation into liquid helium droplets by the pick-up technique. Mass analysis of the incorporated species reveals the dominant presence of atomic carbon and very low abundances of C2 and C3 molecules (<1%). This is in striking contrast to the thermal evaporation of pure carbon, where C3 molecules are found to be the dominant species in the gas phase. Due to the thermal evaporation and the absence of high-energy application required for the dissociation of C2 and C3 molecules, the present source provides carbon atoms with rather low energy.

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