Two experts in electrostatic accelerators visited the University of Jordan Van de Graaff Accelerator (JUVAC) during the period from 19 to 23 January 2020.
The expert mission was sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), within the framework of the Regional Technical Cooperation Project RAS0078, which utilizes various ion beam analysis (IBA) techniques such as the particle induced X-ray emission (PIXE) and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) for elemental analysis of air particulate matter samples in ARASIA region.
The mission was initiated by a request from Dr. Hanan Sa'adeh, the Associate Professor of Atomic and Molecular Physics at UJ and the IAEA Counterpart of the RAS0078 project in Jordan.
The IAEA mission was led by the Associate Nuclear Instrumentation Specialist, Mr Natko Skukan, accompanied with the Senior Specialist Dr. Hab. Ing. Janusz Lekki. Skukan, before becoming an IAEA specialist, has worked for about 20 years in two electrostatic accelerators of Rudjer Boskovic Institute (IRB), Zagreb, Croatia. Lekki is the Head of the Van de Graaff Accelerator and Nuclear Proton Microprobe at the Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow, Poland.
According to Sa'adeh, the mission coordinator, the primary goal of the mission was to diagnose the current status of JUVAC, and to provide recommendations on improvements in its operation. It also encompassed inspection of the accelerator functionality, preliminary troubleshooting, and discussions and guidance on the best practices in operating this facility.
The two experts also toured the Mechanical and Electronic Workshops at the Department of Physics which provide technical support to the accelerator facility. They also visited the JUVAC Students' Lab which has been equipped by IAEA support.
Dean of the School of Science Prof. Fuad Kittaneh received in his office the two experts and Sa'adeh. Kittaneh thanked the experts for their willing to visit JUVAC, and in turn they expressed their gratitude and appreciation for UJ on the great hospitality and professional arrangement of the mission, reflecting their pleasure to visit this research facility in Jordan.
"Thanks to Dr. Hanan for inviting us to visit JUVAC. I would like to stress that you have a fantastic machine and a very rich lab; UJ should be proud of that," Lekki said.
During the meeting, the Dean listened to a brief introduction delivered by the IAEA specialist Skukan about the role played by JUVAC in ARASIA projects sponsored by the IAEA over the years. Kittaneh took the opportunity to stress that the IAEA technical cooperation projects enabled the researchers at JUVAC not only to run their own research work, but also to host trainees from the region, highlighting that 13 Arab participants were trained at JUVAC in November 2016, and two fellows from Yemen are currently being trained under Sa'adeh's supervision in connection to the same projects.
The Head of the Department of Physics Dr. Bashar Lahlouh met the two experts as well. He commended the role of the IAEA in sponsoring research projects at JUVAC. "The main challenge facing JUVAC nowadays, as well as other research laboratories in Jordan, is the insufficient budget, which is most of the time not easily accessible," he added. Lahlouh was very much impressed with the technical improvements achieved during this short-term mission.
Numerous questions about the features and challenges at JUVAC, as well as its current and future status, were raised during the meeting with the Dean, the Head of Physics and the UJ Media Department representative.
As said by Lekki, JUVAC has acquired a new valuable piece of equipment – the accelerating tube, the heart of any acceleration machine, not long ago which in turn added longer life for JUVAC. Skukan pointed out that the techniques that can be done on such machines are still quite up-to-date and needed and even spreading into many fields and various applications.
The two experts concluded their mission by thanking JUVAC team for their efforts and cooperation to make this mission a success. "We succeeded to have nice collaboration from JUVAC team, and we have developed kind of trust between us. We proposed some improvements and recommendations that can be easily implemented," said Lekki.
According to Sa'adeh, the five-day mission was successfully accomplished. It has helped noticeably to overcome several technical challenges including terminal voltage limitation, instability of the beam energy and poor focusing. Moreover, the two experts emphasized that JUVAC acceleration machine is really in good shape if compared to similar facilities all over the world.