Prototyping a High-Frequency Inductive Magnetic Sensor Using the Nonconventional, Low-Temperature Co-Fired Ceramic Technology for Use in ITER
Fusion science and technology
The ITER high-frequency (HF) magnetic sensor is currently intended to be a conventional, Mirnovtype, pick-up coil, designed to provide measurements of magnetic instabilities with magnitude as low as |δB|~10 -4 G at the position of the sensors, and up to frequencies of at least 300kHz. Previous prototyping of this sensor has indicated that a number of problems exist with this conventional design, which are essentially related to the winding process and the differential thermal expansion between
... expansion between the metallic wire and the ceramic spacers. Hence, a non-conventional HF magnetic sensor has been designed and prototyped in-house in different variants using the Low-Temperature Cofired Ceramic (LTCC) technology, involving a series of stacked ceramic substrates with a circuit board printed on them with a metallic ink (silver in our case). A method has then been developed to characterize the electrical properties of these sensors from the DC range up to frequencies in excess of 10MHz. This method has been successfully benchmarked against the measurements for the built sensors, and allows predicting with confidence the electrical properties of LTCC prototypes without the need of actually building them, therefore significantly simplifying future R&D activities. When appropriate design choices are made, LTCC sensors are found to meet in full the volume occupation constraints and the requirements for the sensor's electrical properties which are set out for the ITER HF magnetic diagnostic system. This non-conventional technology is therefore recommended for further R&D and prototyping work, particularly for a 3D sensor, and possibly using materials more suitable for use in the ITER environment, such as palladium and platinum inks, which could remove the perceived risk of transmutation under a heavy neutron flux that we may have with the Au (to Hg, then to Pb) or the Ag (to Cd) metallic inks currently used in LTCC devices.