IBL | Department of Physics



The Ion Beam Laboratory (IBL) utilizes medium energy (10 keV-12 MeV) ion accelerators for multi-disciplinary research and development utilizing a wide range of analytical and modification research techniques in basic and applied physics. IBL students develop skills that can be attractive to academia and industry in areas such as biophysics, semiconductors, solar cells, nuclear energy, environmental science, and other areas of materials science. IBL is also a recognized leader in high energy focused ion beam (HEFIB) technology development and applications.


In 1986, the accelerator group at the University of North Texas received a Texas Advanced Technology Research Grant to acquire a National Electrostatics Corporation Model 9-SDH 3 million-volt tandem Pelletron®-type accelerator which was installed in December 1987. UNT also provided funds to construct an addition to the Ion Beam Modification and Analysis Laboratory (IBMAL) to house the tandem accelerator.

The 200 kV Cockcroft-Walton accelerator and one of the 2.5 MV Van de Graaff's was located in a 78 square meter laboratory while the other three accelerators were located in a 450 square meter adjacent laboratory. The Cockcroft-Walton accelerator was used for surface analysis measurements of materials by sputter-initiated resonance ionization spectroscopy (SIRIS). The 3 MV tandem accelerator, which is still one of the workhorses of the laboratory, was purchased with an rf charge exchange ion source (alphatross) and a Cs sputter-type ion source (SNICS).

A third, ultra-clean, microbeam, raster-scanning, depth-profiling, Cs-sputtering ion source was constructed for the 3 MV tandem accelerator for Trace Element Accelerator Mass Spectroscopy (TEAMS). TEAMS was used to determine impurities in materials at parts per billion (ppb) by depth profiling techniques. In 2021, the TEAMS system was decommissioned to make room for new research instrumentation.

In 2011, a 3 MV single-ended Pelletron® accelerator was moved from the UNT Material Science department to the Physics department ion beam laboratory. This accelerator system was upgraded with a new state-of-the-art digital control system and high stability terminal control. Subsequent improvements to the laboratory included design, fabrication and installation of a high energy focused ion microprobe on one of the beamlines on the 3 MV single-ended Pelletron. More recently, IBL has developed a patented system to allow detection and quantification of trace amounts of low-mass elements (mass>boron) in organic and inorganic matrices.

In 2022 the name of the laboratory was changed to the UNT Ion Beam Laboratory (IBL) to encompass more completely the wide range of ongoing research. Current instrumentation at IBL includes two National Electrostatics Corporation accelerators; a 3 MV 9SH single-ended
2 Pelletron® and a 3 MV SDH2 tandem Pelletron® accelerator. The 200 kV Cockcroft Walton and 2.5 MV High Voltage Engineering single-ended accelerators are situated in a separate laboratory at IBL. IBL yearly maintenance and operating expenses, students and postdocs are supported by research grants and service work. Typical IBL personnel includes three full time faculty (Gary Glass (Director), Dr. Bibhudutta (Associate Director) and Dr. Duncan Weathers along with six graduate student research assistants.

Figure 1 illustrates the layout of the accelerator area at IBL.

The industrial interactions with the IBL, which were begun in the late 1970's, have continued over the past few years. One of the reasons for the close interactions with industry has been the International Conference on the Application of Accelerators in Research and Industry (CAARI), which is co-sponsored by UNT. This conference has been held since 1976, in even numbered years, missing only 2020 due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. The 27th CAARI will be held on 21-26 July 2024. https://caari-sneap.com in Denton, TX. The 2024 Symposium of Northeast Accelerator Personnel (SNEAP) will be jointly held with CAARI.

IBL research programs have been supported by a number of agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research, the Robert A. Welch Foundation, the University of North Texas, the State of Texas Advanced Research Programs, and a number of industrial sponsors.

Ion Beam Laboratory Research