The Rare Isotope Science Project (RISP) was originally established in 2012 as a master plan to build a heavy-ion accelerator (RAON) in Korea. Completion of the RISP in 2021 will enable advanced research on rare isotopes by the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), a Korean research institute for basic and applied science research. The IBS currently comprises 30 research centers with 68 research groups across the nation. Its headquarters are in Daejeon, South Korea, where the RISP project is being realized.

Focus on the accelerator

The Rare isotope Accelerator for ON-line experiments (RAON) is the main platform for RISP. Essentially a large scientific research facility built around a heavy-ion accelerator, RAON combines ionizing devices for heavy-ion beams, accelerator devices, rare isotope producing devices, VAT vacuum valves, and further advanced research equipment – everything that’s required for state-of-the-art nuclear and applied science research. Construction of the particle physics laboratory on the outskirts of Daejeon is set for completion in 2021.

RAON is designed to produce rare isotopes by accelerating and then colliding hydrogen ions (protons) or heavier ions into targets. The resulting mayhem is analyzed to identify the characteristics of new rare isotopes. Designed with cutting-edge superconducting radio frequency (SRF) technology, RAON will be one of the most advanced accelerators in the world when it goes online.

“Because of the level of complexity of the project, RAON researchers are collaborating with a number of other accelerator research groups, including CERN, Fermilab, TRIUMF, and Riken,” adds Kurt Sonderegger, VAT Product Manager for All-Metal Valves. “It’s no coincidence that all of these research groups happen to be VAT customers as well.”

Because VAT has collaborated on virtually every major accelerator project around the world over the past 40 years, the VAT product development team was involved in the conceptual design phase of RISP from the very beginning.

Special challenges for VAT valves

VAT provided RF all-metal gate valves (Series 47.2) as sector isolation valves and all-metal angle valves (Series 54.1 and 57.1) as pump isolation valves.

“The key advantages of the VAT all-metal valves are the reliable all-metal sealing technology, the proven valve mechanism and shock-free operation of the pneumatic valves, and cleanliness,” explains Jang Hun, VAT Project Coordinator for the RISP project. “The VAT components are produced and packaged according to the highest quality standards, including VAT’s renowned production and cleaning processes.”

The VAT RF-gate valve features a customized, narrower and more compact pneumatic actuator to fit into the limited space of the RAON layout. Because RISP was realized in three phases over a long period of time, it was important to ensure the valves could be reliably stored until they were installed. In order to prevent oxidation of the partially silver-plated valve interior parts, the valves were delivered with VAT’s long-term packaging.

The VAT all-metal valve models represent the globally-proven standard in vacuum valves for accelerator and synchrotron applications – and specifically for RAON’s superconducting radio frequency (SRF) environment.

“Once completed, RISP will enable scientists to analyze and discover the origin of elements, better understand the beginning and expansion of the universe, and the evolution of stars,” concludes Kurt Sonderegger. “It’s an exciting project!”