School of Physics - Theses

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    Application of a scanning proton microprobe as a diagnostic tool and the development of a high brightness ion source
    Allan, Garry Lindsay ( 1989)
    This thesis concerns both the application and future development of a Scanning Proton Microprobe (SPMP). The work involved the use of a microprobe in a biological project which placed heavy demands on beam brightness, and also a program to investigate and address the demand for brighter microprobe beams. The thesis thus falls naturally into two distinct, though related, sections. The SPMP has been applied to the study of Menkes' disease, a copper-dependent genetic disorder. The disease is expressed in fibroblast cells, and the SPMP was used to map elemental distributions within both normal and Menkes' fibroblasts. An elevated level of intracellular copper was observed within Menkes' cells enabling individual cells to be identified as normal or Menkes' depending upon the copper content of the cell. Subcellular structure within fibroblasts was investigated by using the microprobe as a Scanning Transmission Ion Microscope (STIM). It was shown that this technique affords sufficient resolution to image the nuclear membrane and nucleoli. However, at this resolution, insufficient beam current was available to permit elemental distributions to be obtained. The elemental content of subcellular and subnuclear components is of fundamental importance to biochemical processes within the cell and to the expression of Menkes' disease. Hence an increase in the resolution of the SPMP is of major importance provided that the beam current can be maintained at levels acceptable for elemental analysis. Such a significant improvement in microprobe resolution can only be achieved with a brighter primary beam from the accelerator. This requires a brighter ion source. The performance of the existing RF ion source has been studied on a suitable test-bench, and its brightness measured. The possible use of alternative ion sources offering significant gains in. brightness was investigated, and an ion source using the process of field ionization was designed and built. Field ionization sources use a sharply pointed emitter as the site for ion production. This gives these sources an intrinsically high brightness, but in general they have not been designed so as to produce currents suitable for use in an electrostatic accelerator. The present field ionization source was optimized to produce a maximum current whilst being sufficiently rugged and compact to withstand use within the accelerator. The beam brightness achieved with this source offered a significant increase in source brightness with sufficient current to provide stable operation of the accelerator. The successful implementation of this source would produce a major improvement in the spatial resolution available for imaging and elemental analysis with the microprobe.