The NIST EBIT Facility is used to investigate the science and applications of highly charged ions.
The NIST EBIT is a table-top device which can produce matter in excess of ten million degrees Kelvin. At these temperatures, even the heaviest atoms shed most of their electrons. The highly charged ions which result are trapped by a configuration of electric and magnetic fields in an ultrahigh vacuum chamber. The ions are probed with an intense electron beam, and the emitted photons are studied with an array of spectrometers that span the visible to the x-ray regions of the spectrum. Data from such studies find use in areas such as fusion energy diagnostics, x-ray astronomy, the development of light sources for extreme ultraviolet lithography in the microelectronics industry, and basic science studies of the structure of the quantum vacuum. The NIST EBIT also serves as a source of exotic, highly charged, ion beams which are being used by the Quantum Processes and Metrology Group to nanostructure materials in magnetic tunnel junction devices.