Monte Carlo modeling and optimization of buffer gas positron traps

Srdjan MARJANOVIĆ, Zoran Petrović

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Buffer gas positron traps have been used for over two decades as the prime source of slow positrons enabling a wide range of experiments. While their performance has been well understood through empirical studies, no theoretical attempt has been made to quantitatively describe their operation. In this paper we apply standard models as developed for physics of low temperature collision dominated plasmas, or physics of swarms to model basic performance and
principles of operation of gas filled positron traps. The Monte Carlo model is equipped with the best available set of cross sections that were mostly derived experimentally by using the same type of traps that are being studied. Our model represents in realistic geometry and fields the development of the positron ensemble from the initial beam provided by the solid neon
moderator through voltage drops between the stages of the trap and through different pressures of the buffer gas. The first two stages employ excitation of N2 with acceleration of the order of 10 eV so that the trap operates under conditions when excitation of the nitrogen reduces the energy of the initial beam to trap the positrons without giving them a chance to become annihilated following positronium formation. The energy distribution function develops from the assumed distribution leaving the moderator, it is accelerated by the voltage drops and forms beams at several distinct energies. In final stages the low energy loss collisions (vibrational excitation of CF4 and rotational excitation of N2) control the approach of the distribution function to a Maxwellian at room temperature but multiple non-Maxwellian groups persist throughout most of the thermalization. Optimization of the efficiency of the trap may be achieved by changing the pressure and voltage drops and also by selecting to operate in a two stage mode. The model allows quantitative comparisons and test of optimization as well as development of other properties.
Original languageEnglish
Article number024003
Number of pages14
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 13 Jan 2017


  • thermalization
  • positrons
  • gas filled trap
  • positron trap


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