Investigating Electrical Breakdown in Liquid Helium for the nEDM Experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Faculty Sponsor

Shirvel Stanislaus


Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Fall 5-4-2017


The SNS nEDM experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory aims to search for the electric dipole moment of the neutron (nEDM) at the 3x10-28 level. The experiment is currently in the critical component demonstration phase. The design of the experiment calls for an electric field of 75 kV/cm across the experimental cells between electrodes within a bath of liquid helium (LHe). However, the electric breakdown phenomenon in LHe is poorly understood. Experiments investigating the breakdown of LHe were carried out at Los Alamos National Laboratory using a small-scale high voltage (SSHV) test apparatus at temperatures from 1.7K to 4K. Effects of varying temperature, pressure, and electrode surface conditions on LHe breakdown were investigated. Results and their implications to the SNS nEDM experiment will be presented.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Nathaniel Bouman is a junior computer science and physics double major pursuing a BS at Valparaiso University. After graduation he hopes to pursue a career in a computer science-related field. He became involved with the nEDM experiment via the opportunity to do summer research at Valparaiso University in the summer of 2015, and was able to continue work on the nEDM experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2016.

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