The study of innovative Beam Intercepting Devices, in particular collimators, is essential to handle the high energy particle beams required to explore unknown territory in basic research. This calls for the development of novel advanced materials, as no existing metal-based or carbon-based material possesses the combination of physical, thermal, electrical and mechanical properties, imposed by the collimators extreme working conditions. New material families being investigated include metal-diamond and metal-graphite composites.
Combining the outstanding thermal and physical properties of diamond or graphite with the electrical and mechanical ones of metals and transition metal-based ceramics, these materials possess low density, high thermal conductivity, low coefficient of thermal expansion, high operating temperature and excellent thermal shock resistance. The research program carried out on these materials at CERN and collaborating partners is mainly focused on the theoretical investigation, material characterisation and manufacturing processes.
Besides High Energy Physics, these materials are of particular interest for demanding thermal management applications such as high power density electronic packaging, avionics and aerospace systems, gas turbines, advanced automotive and aeronautical braking systems. In the case of Molybdenum Carbide – Graphite composites, one can obtain a thermal conductivity of 770 W/mK, a coefficient of thermal expansion of less than 2 ppm/K, an electrical conductivity in excess of 1 MS/m and a density as low as 2.6 g/cubic cm. These, as well as other properties, can be tailored to meet specific application requests.