A 3-MV pelletron tandem accelerator is the heart of the Vienna environmental research accelerator (VERA). The original design of the beam transport components allows the transport of ions of all elements, from the lightest to the heaviest. For light ions the suppression of neighboring masses was sufficient to measure isotopic ratios of 14C/12C and 26Al/27Al as low as 10−15 and 10Be/9Be down to 10−13. To suppress neighboring masses for the heaviest radionuclides in the energy range of 10–20 MeV, the resolution of VERA was increased both by improving the ion optics of existing elements at the injection side and by installing a new high-resolution electrostatic separator at the high-energy side. Interfering ions which pass all beam filters are identified with a Bragg-type ionization detector and a high-resolution time-of-flight system. Two ultra-thin diamond-like carbon (DLC) foils are used in the start and stop detector, which substantially reduces losses due to beam straggling. This improved set up enables us to measure even the heaviest long-lived radionuclides, where stable isobaric interferences are absent (e.g. 236U and 244Pu), down to environmental levels. Moreover, the advantage of a ‘small’ and well manageable machine like VERA lies in its higher stability and reliability which allows to measure these heavy radionuclides more accurately, and also a large number of samples.
Volume 94, 2020
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