RF Charge Exchange Ion Source (Alphatross)

Product Features
  • Conveniently produces H, NH, O and other ion beams
  • Simple to operate
  • Compact
  • Long lifetime: over 1,000 hours of beam time between maintenance while producing 2 µA of He

The NEC RF charge exchange ion source – also referred to as Alphatross – was designed primarily for the production of He- beams for injection into tandem accelerators. The source can also produce H, NH, and O beams. Contact us to learn more.


There are now more than one hundred Alphatross sources in use on tandem accelerators worldwide.
Contact us to learn more and start an order.



Modern MeV ion beam analytical instruments require a long lived and simple-to-operate source of He-, H-, and NH- beams. The NEC’s Alphatross RF charge exchange ion source satisfies these requirements. H- is used in Particle-induced X-ray Emission (PIXE) applications, while NH- is used for Nuclear Reaction Analysis (NRA).


How It Works

The only way that the He ion can be formed is by a two-step process that involves the production of the He+ ion followed by charge exchange using an alkali metal vapor:


NEC’s RF Charge Exchange Ion Source Design



A typical NEC Alphatross system includes:

NEC can provide just the source, a complete injector system, or anything in-between.


NEC’s RF Charge Exchange Ion Source Performance

Below is a list of beam currents that have been produced by NEC’s Alphatross.

This list does not represent the limit in capabilities of the ion source.  All elements that can exist in the gaseous form and form negative ions could be considered candidates for ion production in the Alphatross. Please contact NEC with any questions about potential applications or performance.

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