A technique to enhance the yield of atomic ion species (H.sup.+, D.sup.+, O.sup.+, N.sup.+, etc.) from plasma ion sources. The technique involves the addition of catalyzing agents to the ion discharge. Effective catalysts include H.sub.2 O, D.sub.2 O, O.sub.2, and SF.sub.6, among others, with the most effective being water (H.sub.2 O) and deuterated water (D.sub.2 O). This technique has been developed at Argonne National Laboratory, where microwave generated plasmas have produced ion beams comprised of close to 100% purity protons (H.sup.+) and close to 100% purity deuterons (D.sup.+). The technique also increases the total yield of protons and deuterons by converting unwanted ion species, namely, H.sub.2.sup.+,H.sub.3.sup.+ and D.sub.2.sup.+, D.sub.3.sup.+, into the desired ion species, H.sup.+ and D.sup.+, respectively.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Chicago.