Study of liquid lithium has increased as of late for its applicability in fusion energy. Liquid lithium implemented in the divertor of a fusion device may prove to be the path to a fusion device that produces significantly more energy than it consumes. Liquid lithium benefits a fusion device by gettering cold hydrogenic species at the wall of a fusion device, raising edge temperatures, and increasing energy confinement times. However, this effect subsides as the lithium passivates, or reacts to form different compounds. Maintenance of a clean lithium surface therefore is important, and so is the study of clean lithium surfaces.
The lithium injector developed at UIUC imparts the ability to place controlled amounts of visibly impurity-free liquid lithium into a vacuum chamber. Loaded with lithium that may be partially oxidized on the surface, ejection through a nozzle ensures via the high surface tension of lithium that the oxide, hydroxide, and hydride impurities that form on lithium surfaces are confined to the injector tube, and that only lithium exits. This injector is used in the Materials Characterization Test Stand (MCATS) chamber to study the contact angle of liquid lithium, as well as used to fill the Liquid-Metal Infused Trenches (LiMIT) that are implemented on the Solid-Liquid Lithium Divertor Experiment (SLiDE) chamber with clean lithium.