For the purpose of future visualization of the flow field in superfluid helium-4, clusters of the triplet state excimer 4He2* are generated along the micro-scale recoil tracks of the neutron-absorption reaction n + 3He → 3T + p. This reaction is induced by neutron irradiation of the 3He fraction contained in natural isotopic abundance liquid helium with neutron beams either from the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex, Materials and Life Science Experimental Facility (JPARC)/Materials and Life Science Experimental Facility or from the Kyoto University Institute for Integrated Radiation and Nuclear Science. These 4He2* clusters are expected to be ideal tracers of the normal-fluid component in superfluid helium with several advantageous properties. Evidence of the excimer generation is inferred by detection of laser induced fluorescence emitted from the 4He2* clusters excited by a purpose-built short pulse gain-switched titanium:sapphire (Ti:sa) laser operating at a wavelength of 905 nm. The setup and performance characteristics of the laser system including the Ti:sa and two continuous wave re-pumping lasers are described. Detection at the fluorescence wavelength of 640 nm is performed by using optical bandpass filtered photomultiplier tubes (PMT). Electrical noise in the PMT acquisition traces could successfully be suppressed by post-processing with a simple algorithm. Despite other laser-related backgrounds, the excimer was clearly identified by its fluorescence decay characteristics. Production of the excimer was found to be proportional to the neutron flux, adjusted via insertion of different collimators into the neutron beam. These observations suggest that the apparatus we constructed does function in the expected manner and, therefore, has the potential for groundbreaking turbulence research with superfluid helium.
An experimental setup for creating and imaging 4 excimer cluster tracers in superfluid helium-4 via neutron-3He absorption reaction
V. Sonnenschein, Y. Tsuji, S. Kokuryu, W. Kubo, S. Suzuki, H. Tomita, Y. Kiyanagi, T. Iguchi, T. Matsushita, N. Wada, M. Kitaguchi, H. M. Shimizu, K. Hirota, T. Shinohara, K. Hiroi, H. Hayashida, W. Guo, D. Ito, Y. Saito; An experimental setup for creating and imaging 4 excimer cluster tracers in superfluid helium-4 via neutron-3He absorption reaction. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 1 March 2020; 91 (3): 033318. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5130919
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