Dielectric properties of alumina ceramics for fusion applications

  • Darío Cruz
  • Rafael Vila
  • Begoña Gómez-Ferrer
Keywords: fusion, DEMO, ceramics, dielectric properties, pre-irradiation


The insulating materials for radio frequency (RF) windows and different antenna supports for heating systems and some diagnostics are still an unresolved issue in future fusion machines such as DEMO. Alumina ceramic (Al2O3) is one of the main candidate materials for these systems. The dielectric properties, such as electrical permittivity (ε) and loss tangent (tanδ), determine its power losses. Therefore, tanδ values need to be low, between 10–6 and 10–3 depending on the application. However, due to the crucial role of the manufacturing process in determining its final dielectric properties, there is the need to undertake a joint effort with the industry in order to validate a standard manufacturing route that ensures a supply of ceramic material with homogeneous and standardized dielectric properties for future fusion machines. In DEMO, these ceramic materials will be operated under extreme conditions. They will be exposed to considerable levels of neutron irradiation. Radiation Induced Conductivity (RIC) and Radiation Induced Electrical Degradation (RIED) are phenomena that influence notoriously on the dielectric performance of these materials. Therefore, their optimum properties must be tested under relevant irradiation conditions. Hence, it is important to accurately characterize their dielectric properties before irradiation to be able to compare them with the future post neutron irradiation results. Furthermore, other types of radiation such as beta and gamma are also used in the irradiation scheme to provide more information on the variation of dielectric properties of ceramics due to radiation effects. In this work, loss tangent and permittivity values of some pre-irradiated candidate materials will be presented as well as the measuring techniques used at CIEMAT. These techniques have the advantage of covering a very broad range of frequencies required for alumina applications in fusion (from kHz to GHz) and giving the best accuracy for very low losses.
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