Russia Develops New Wire Market Technology

  • The problem of gilding thin aluminum wires to obtain chemical resistance and the possibility of fixing (soldering wires) is very acute in the world.
  • The technology uses optical fibers glued into a matrix to transfer the light signal from scintillator crystals to the photodetector.
  • According to the developers, tests of the sprayed optical fiber gave a positive result, the light transition was significantly suppressed.

Russian scientists have developed new technology geared at the wire market. In particle physics, an important task in creating detectors is to cover various plastic fibers and metal wires (with diameters of several tens of microns or more) with a thin layer of a given metal.

The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) consists of the national academy of Russia; a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation; and additional scientific and social units such as libraries, publishing units, and hospitals.

The most common “electroplating” technology in the world is not suitable for both non-conductive fibers and thin metal wires due to the intense erosion that occurs due to the chemical reagents used.

Magnetron discharge technology entails a coated fiber (or wire), which is stretched through the discharge area. Hence, allowing  to circumvent these difficulties.

Therefore, a pilot plant for magnetron deposition of metal coatings on wires and fibers was created at the INP SB RAS (Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Siberian Branch of the RAS).

To date, dozens of kilometers of optical fiber have been covered in metal. Furthermore, the technology of magnetron sputtering of metals in demand when creating a drift detector chamber for the electron-positron Collider Super S project of the INP SB RAS.

“Metallized carbon fibers that combine the weight and strength properties of carbon fiber with the properties of conducting metal wires are very interesting for the development and production of a drift chamber,” explained Alexander Popov, a Senior researcher at the INP SB RAS. “Also, the problem of gilding thin aluminum wires to obtain chemical resistance and the possibility of fixing (soldering wires) is very acute in the world.”

Moreover, the INP SB RAS has been developing a high-resolution x-ray matrix recorder since 2018. The technology uses optical fibers glued into a matrix to transfer the light signal from scintillator crystals to the photodetector. Increasing the contrast of the recorded image is closely related to the light isolation of the detector elements.

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There are several methods of light isolation in such systems. Additionally, it was decided to apply an aluminum coating (up to 50 nm) by magnetron sputtering of metals on the surface of the optical fiber. For this purpose, the INP SB RAS created a pilot plant for aluminum spraying with a capacity of 10 km per week.

The installation measures 1.2 meters in length and 1 meter in height, and weighs several hundred kilograms. It consists of a cylindrical magnetron, a fiber drawing system (several hundred meters per cycle), a system for obtaining a vacuum and injecting the working gas.

According to the developers, tests of the sprayed optical fiber gave a positive result, the light transition was significantly suppressed, while the light-transmitting properties of the fiber were not violated. The station developed at the INP SB RAS is promising for use in various fields of nuclear physics and nuclear technologies.

The technology is not complete, and there is a lot of research and development still required. However, it is exciting work, and can simplify many projects going forward. The technology has a wide range of applications and fields.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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