Contribution Oral presentation
Space-charge effects in liquid argon ionization chambers
We have uniformly irradiated liquid argon ionization chambers with betas from high-activity Strontium-90 sources. The radiation environment is similar to that in the liquid argon calorimeters which are part of the ATLAS detector installed at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC). We measured the resulting ionization current over a wide range of applied potential for two different source activities and for three different chamber gaps. These studies provide operating experience at exceptionally high ionization rates. In particular they indicate a stability at the 0.1% level for these calorimeters over years of operation at the full LHC luminosity when operated in the normal mode at an electric field of 1.0 kV/mm. We can operate these chambers in the normal mode or in the space-charge limited regime and thereby determine the transition point between the two. This transition point is parameterized by a positive argon ion mobility of μ₊ = 0.08 ± 0.02 mm²/Vs at 88.0 ± 0.5 K and 1.02 ± 0.02 bar. In the space-charge limited regime the ionization currents are severely degraded and show signs of instability. At the highest electric fields in our study the ionization current is still slowly rising with increasing electric field, that is, the currents don't appear to be approaching an asymptotic value.