The Laboratório de Aceleradores e Tecnologias de Radiação (LATR) at the Campus Tecnológico e Nuclear, of Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) has a horizontal electrostatic particle accelerator based on the Van de Graaff machine which is used for research in the area of material characterization. This machine produces alfa (He+) and proton (H+) beams of some μA currents up to 2 MeV/q energies. Beam focusing is obtained using a cylindrical lens of the Einzel type, assembled near the high voltage terminal. This paper describes the developed system that automatically focuses the ion beam, using a personal computer running the LabVIEW software, a multifunction input/output board and signal conditioning circuits. The focusing procedure consists of a scanning method to find the lens bias voltage which maximizes the beam current measured on a beam stopper target, which is used as feedback for the scanning cycle. This system, as part of a wider start up and shut down automation system built for this particle accelerator, brings great advantages to the operation of the accelerator by turning it faster and easier to operate, requiring less human presence, and adding the possibility of total remote control in safe conditions.
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