Spring 2005 Issue: Paper 1

Authors: D. Allspach, D. Ambrose, M. Binkley, C. Bromberg, K. Burkett, R. Kephart, R. Madrak, T. Miao, A. Mukherjee, R. Roser, R.L. Wagner
Title: "Aging in the Large CDF Axial Drift Chamber"
Abstract: The Central Outer Tracker (COT) is a large axial drift chamber in the Collider Detector at Fermilab operating with a gas mixture that is 50/50 argon/ethane with an admixture of 1.7% isopropanol. In its first two years of operation the COT showed unexpected aging with the worst parts of the chamber experiencing a gain loss of ~50% for an accumulated charge of ~35 mC/cm. By monitoring the pulse height of hits on good tracks, it was possible to determine the gain as a function of time and location in the chamber. In addition, the currents of the high voltage supplies gave another monitor of chamber gain and its dependence on the charge deposition rate. The aging was worse on the exhaust end of the chamber consistent with polymer buildup as the gas flows through the chamber. The distribution in azimuth suggests that aging is enhanced at lower temperatures, but other factors such as gas flow patterns may be involved. Elemental and molecular analysis of the sense wires found a coating that is mostly carbon and hydrogen with a small amount of oxygen; no silicon or other contaminants were identified. High resolution electron microscope pictures of the wire surface show that the coating is smooth with small sub-micron nodules. In the course of working with the chamber gas system, we discovered a small amount of O2 is enough to reverse the aging. Operating the chamber with ~100 ppm of O2 reversed almost two years of gain loss in less than 10 days while accumulating <= 2 mC/cm.
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Last modified: January 12, 2005, J. Schwiening.