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Beamlines and the Role of Vacuum Technology

NORTH AMERICA | 26 April 2024 | 5 min

There’s a rather old Chinese proverb that reads, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but it’s the last step that matters most." The question is, what does that have to do with beamlines and vacuum technology? In the realm of scientific research particularly those involving particle accelerators like synchrotrons and linear accelerators (LINAC), each step in the process is vital, but the overall effectiveness of the experiment relies on the final stages at the beamline end stations. Here, the role of vacuum technology, especially turbomolecular pumps and pumping stations, is often the difference between failure and success.

The Importance of Vacuum in Beamlines

In fields such as particle physics, materials science, and nanotechnology, beamlines are crucial. These beamlines direct streams of particles—photons, electrons, or ions—at a target, enabling scientists to study material interactions or to create new materials. The precision of these experiments requires an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) environment along the beamline to prevent air molecules and other contaminants from interfering with the particles' pathways.

Traditionally, vacuum environments are maintained using capture pumps like our well-known range of Gamma Vacuum pumps including Ion Getter Pumps (IGP), Titanium Sublimation Pumps (TSP), and Non-Evaporable Getter Pumps (NEG). Which are normally hard mounted directly to the chambers. However, it’s important not to forget the vacuum required for end stations—where the actual science is taking place—an area we offer a wide range of solutions to meet the demand.


Turbomolecular Pumps at End Stations

At beamline end stations, turbomolecular pumps are crucial for creating the necessary vacuum conditions essential for conducting advanced scientific research. These pumps operate on the principle of high-speed rotating blades that effectively direct gas molecules out of the chamber, thus creating a vacuum. Unlike other types of vacuum pumps, turbomolecular pumps are expertly engineered to handle the delicate environments required for these experiments.

Edwards Vacuum recognizes the critical role of these pumps in scientific applications and offers a wide range of turbomolecular pumps and pumping stations designed specifically for beamline use. This includes standalone units as well as those integrated into full-service carts, both of which are pivotal in maintaining ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions at these end stations.

The nEXT Mechanical Turbomolecular Pumps, for instance, are engineered for high vacuum performance and are ideally suited for these settings, thanks to their design which significantly reduces mechanical vibrations, deliver exceptional pumping speeds, offer integrated intelligent controls, and are fully end user serviceable. 

Additionally, the TIC Cart and TIC Cart XL pumping stations provide mobile and flexible vacuum solutions, perfect for quickly establishing a vacuum in sections of the beamline that need to be vented. Equipped with the same advanced turbomolecular pump technology previously mentioned, these carts are invaluable for their portability and ease of use, and boast full control of pumps with up to 3 Active gauges and a wide variety of remote communications. Let's not forget that our TIC Cart XL Pumping Stations can be customized with an integrated DIGITEL SPC-NEG controller for quick and easy NEG regeneration in addition to pump-down of your vacuum chamber or beamline (optional NEG systemization add-ons shown below).

EDW_NEG_TIC Cart Configuration REV01

So while the journey of a thousand miles part of the proverb is easily relatable to anyone that has ever walked the distance of a particle accelerator – the success of the experiments conducted at the beamline relies heavily on the last steps—end stations - where turbomolecular pumps and pumping stations play a critical role. By maintaining an ultra-high vacuum, these devices ensure that the scientific investigations carried out in these facilities are precise and reliable. Whether for medical research, biomaterials development, or proton therapy, the right vacuum technology is key to unlocking new discoveries in the realm of scientific research.

If you're interested in learning more about Edwards range of Turbomolecular pumps and TIC Cart pumping stations, click below:

Get in touch with us for more information.