Document Type




Journal Title

Physical Review C

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Background: Polarized He-3 targets have been used as effective polarized neutron targets for electron scattering experiments for over twenty years. Over the last ten years, the effective luminosity of polarized He-3 targets based on spin-exchange optical pumping has increased by over an order of magnitude. This has come about because of improvements in commercially-available lasers and an improved understanding of the physics behind the polarization process. Purpose: We present the development of high-performance polarized He-3 targets for use in electron scattering experiments. Improvements in the performance of polarized He-3 targets, target properties, and operating parameters are documented. Methods: We utilize the technique of alkali-hybrid spin-exchange optical pumping to polarize the He-3 targets. Spectrally narrowed diode lasers used for the optical pumping greatly improved the performance. A simulation of the alkali-hybrid spin-exchange optical pumping process was developed to provide guidance in the design of the targets. Data was collected during the characterization of 24 separate glass target cells, each of which was constructed while preparing for one of four experiments at Jefferson Laboratory in Newport News, Virginia. Results: From the data obtained we made determinations of the so-called X-factors that quantify a temperaturedependent and as-yet poorly understood spin-relaxation mechanism that limits the maximum achievable He-3 polarization to well under 100%. The presence of the X-factor spin-relaxation mechanism was clearly evident in our data. Good agreement between the simulation and the actual target performance was obtained by including details such as off-resonant optical pumping. Included in our results is ameasurement of the K-He-3 spin-exchange rate coefficient k(se)(K) = (7.46 +/- 0.62) x 10(-20) cm(3)/s over the temperature range 503 K to 563 K. Conclusions: In order to achieve high performance under the operating conditions described in this paper, the K to Rb alkali vapor density ratio should be about 5 +/- 2 and the line width of the optical pumping lasers should be no more than 0.3 nm. Our measurements of the X-factors under these conditions seem to indicate the He-3 polarization is limited to approximate to 90%. The simulation results, now benchmarked against experimental data, are useful for the design of future targets. Further work is required to better understand the temperature dependence of the X-factor spin-relaxation mechanism and the limitations of our optical pumping simulation.