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Isotope separation using tuned laser and electron beam

Image Number 4 for United States Patent #4704197.

Apparatus and method for producing a stream (56) of a selected isotope. The apparatus comprises means for producing an atomic beam (26) containing the isotope of interest and other isotopes. Means (48) are provided for producing a magnetic field (28) traversing the path of the atomic beam of an intensity sufficient to broaden the energy domain of the various individual magnetic sublevels of the isotope of interest and having the atomic beam passing therethrough. A laser beam (32) is produced of a frequency and polarization selected to maximize the activation of only individual magnetic sublevels of the isotope of interest within the portion of its broadened energy domain most removed from other isotopes within the stream. The laser beam is directed so as to strike the atomic beam within the magnetic field and traverse the path of the atomic beam whereby only the isotope of interest is activated by the laser beam. The apparatus further includes means (40, 44, 46, 28) for producing a collimated and high intensity beam of electrons (42) of narrow energy distribution within the magnetic field which is aimed so as to strike the atomic beam while the atomic beam is simultaneously struck by the laser beam and at an energy level selected to ionize the activated isotope of interest but not ground state species included therewith. Deflection means (54) are disposed in the usual manner to collect the ions.

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