Experimental evidence on photo-assisted O- ion production from Al2O3 cathode in cesium sputter negative ion source
The production of negative ions in cesium sputter ion sources is generally considered to be a pure surface process. It has been recently proposed that ion pair production could explain the higher-than-expected beam currents extracted from these ion sources, therefore opening the door for laser-assisted enhancement of the negative ion yield. We have tested this hypothesis by measuring the effect of various pulsed diode lasers on the O - beam current produced from Al 2O 3 cathode of a cesium sputter ion source. It is expected that the ion pair production of O - requires populating the 5d electronic states of neutral cesium, thus implying that the process should be provoked only with specific wavelengths. Our experimental results provide evidence for the existence of a wavelength-dependent photo-assisted effect but cast doubt on its alleged resonant nature as the prompt enhancement of beam current can be observed with laser wavelengths exceeding a threshold photon energy. The beam current transients observed during the laser pulses suggest that the magnitude and longevity of the beam current enhancement depends on the cesium balance on the cathode surface. We conclude that the photo-assisted negative ion production could be of practical importance as it can more than double the extracted beam current under certain operational settings of the ion source.