To Auburn University Home Page
To College of Sciences & Mathematics Home Page
The Edmund C. Leach Nuclear Science Center was formally dedicated in the spring of 1967, and established as a research and teaching facility for use by faculty and students throughout the University with interests in nuclear science. It was designed to complement and extend facilities in the various departments and to facilitate basic and applied studies in nuclear science. The building has 19,560 sq. ft. with space for radiation sources, research and teaching laboratories, conference room, and offices for faculty and administrative personnel. The major research equipment included a Dynamitron accelerator, Cobalt-60 source, and Cobalt-60 teletherapy unit.
In 1986, administration of the Center was transferred from the Office of Vice President for Research to the College of Sciences and Mathematics. In 1998, the administrative control of the Center was transferred to the Physics Department.
As the interest in nuclear sciences at Auburn University declined over the years, the Center has been made available to other programs in the College to accommodate growth. For example, the Molecular Biology Program of the Department of Botany and Microbiology was located in the Center from 1984 through 1994, and the Compact Auburn Torsatron (CAT) for the fusion energy research of the Physics Department was placed in the Center. In addition, the Administrative Office and some sections of the Safety and Environmental Health Office (SEH), including the Radiological Safety Office were moved to the building in 1967. Although located in the Center, administration of these units remain with the respective departments or the VP for Administrative Services.
More recently, the Center has been made available to interdisciplinary research groups with emphasis on environmental sciences, and space has been made available to the Space Power Institute. Although the 60Co pool source and accelerator remain as major facilities for faculty research, the name of the Center was changed in 1996 to the Leach Science Center to reflect the broader scope of scientific interests of the Center.
Particle Accelerator Laboratory
The heart of accelerator is a National Electrostatics Corporation 2 MV tandem accelerator equipped with an rf charge exchange ion source and a dedicated SNICS (source of negative ions from cesium sputtering)heavy ion source. This instrument was purchased with support from the NSF's Academic Research Infrastructure program, and installed in the summer of 1997. The new instrument is a replacement for a 26 year old, single-ended 3 MV Dynamitron accelerator.
The NEC accelerator produces He ion beams using rf exchange ion source, and a broad range of heavy ion beams are available from the SNIC source. Depending on the final charge state of a particular ion, these heavy ion beams can have energies up to MeV. The accelerator has three legs for the following capabilities: Fast neutron activation analysis (FNAA), neutron time of flight spectrometry (NTOFS), Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS), light ion channeling (LIC), proton inducted x-ray emission (PIXE), nuclear reaction analysis (NRA) and heavy ion implanation (HII). Application of RBS and LIC includes interface and thin-film analysis - particularly for heavy ion implanation of semiconductor materials. These techniques are complementary to others such as AES (Auger electron spectroscopy), XPS (x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy) and SEM (scanning electron microscopy) located in the Physics Department. The accelerator is used by the faculty in the College of Sciences and Mathematics and College of Engineering in research efforts for electronic materials (Si, the III-V's. SiC,and the III-nitrides), metal oxidation and atomic oxygen interactions with materials, high temperature electronics packaging, ion-induced radiation damage of insulating materials, and diamond film technologies.
The accelerator facility is supported by electronic and mechanical shops, and laboratory personnel are available to assist users both technically and scientifically.
Use of the accelerator facility by organizations outside the academic community for applications such as trace elemental analysis is encouraged, and inquiries are welcome.
The accelerator is used extensively in a wide band gap semiconductor
materials research program directed by Dr. John Williams of the Physics
Department. Collaborators in this program include Drs. Chin Che Tin and
Michael Bozack also of the Physics Department. Dr. Wayne Johnson of the
Department of Electrical Engineering and other scientists and engineers
at the University of Pittsburgh, Murray State University, the Pennsylvania
State University, the Northrop-Grumman Science and Technology Center and
Allied Signal, Inc. The objective of this research is technology development
and transfer for electronic devices based on silicon carbide (SiC) and
the group III-nitrides (AIN and GaN). These devices operate in environments
where ordinary silicon-based devices fail e.g. high temperature, high power/frequency
and high radiation. Research efforts are coordinated in three areas: epitaxial
material growth, electrical and physical characterization of ohmic and
Schottky contacts and dielectric layers, and discrete device fabrication
and testing. The accelerator facility in the Leach Science Center is the
heart of the physical characterization effort for the wide band gap semiconductor
program. Accelerator-based techniques such as Rutherford backscattering
spectrometry (RBS), light ion channeling (LIC) and heavy ion implantation
(HII) complement other available techniques such as Auger electron spectroscopy
(AES), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy
(SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) to form a powerful capability for
the physical analysis of materials.
Fusion energy is one of the leading candidates to replace the dwindling reserves of fossil fuel energy that modern, industrialized society depends upon. The fuel needed for fusion-energy production, isotopes of hydrogen, is essentially inexhaustible. Fusion energy has the advantage of not contributing to the global warming and climactic alteration problems that accompany the burning of fossil fuels. Many of the radioactivity problems associated with fission energy are either not present in fusion (such as catastrophic meltdown) or are much easier to deal with (lower level of radioactivity). Many scientific approaches to controlled fusion have been tried. At the present time, the leading candidate is the toroidal magnetic confinement approach of which the stellerator or torsatron concept is a leading candidate.
The stellarator research effort at Auburn is centered on a new stellarator-type
device, the Compact Auburn Torsatron (CAT). CAT has been in operation since
1990. CAT is a low-aspect ratio, continuous coil, toroidal magnetic fusion
device. The machine has a major radius of 53 cm, an average plasma radius
of 11 cm, and a steady-state magnetic field of 1 kG. CAT was designed using
a novel optimization scheme which employs the coil positions and coil winding
laws as parameters. The primary purposes of CAT is to study the fragility
and control of magnetic surfaces and to study plasma transport. This research
is directed by Drs. Rex Gandy,Steve Knowlton and Christopher Watts of the
Research on the use of Silent Discharge Plasma (SDP) for air purification
has been conducted at Auburn for over ten years. The current program being
conducted at the Leach Science Center is focused on the removal of nitrogen
oxides from engine exhaust streams and is funded by the USAF. SDP removal
devices are characterized by simplicity and low capital costs. Their mode
of operation is the generation of selected reactive species, primarily
free radicals, through electron impacts from plasma microdischarges between
highly charged dielectric surfaces. A prime goal of this research is the
alteration of chemical reaction pathways and with concomitant reduction
of operating cost, through ultraviolet irradiation of the plasma discharge
zone where chemical reactions occur. This research is directed by Dr. Charles
Neely of the Department of Chemistry.
Research in this laboratory is focused on the thermalizaton chemistry of phosphatides. The work is based on the discovery in this lab that phosphatides, i.e. raw or processed gums from soybean oil processing that contain mainly phosphatides, are converted to a greatly improved emulsifier for water-in- oil emulsions when subjected to certain conditions of temperature and time. In addition, the non-choline phosphatides are preferentially degraded leaving a product greatly enriched in phosphatidylcholine. The thermal behavior of individual phosphatides and reaction chemistry under thermalization conditions is being studied using 31P-NMR, DSC and mass spectrometry.
For further information about the Center contact:
Dr. Joe Perez
Head of the Department of Physics
Auburn University, Alabama 36849
(334) 844-4230 (Office) (334) 844-6917 (Fax)
Costs are associated with use of the accelerator and radiation facilities. Faculty preparing proposals for research requiring these facilities should consult the Director about costs.
To top of page
To Auburn University Home Page
To College of Sciences & Mathematics Home Page