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The electropolishing of niobium cavities is commonly made in an acid electrolyte constituted by a mixture of sulphuric and hydrofluoric acid, in a volume ratio of 1:9. Considering the hazards and problems related to the use of these substances, in the last years many research teams have developed alternative electrolytic solutions, which are more or less effective.
One of them is being tested at the Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro (LNL): it consists of a ionic liquid, i.e. a salt that is liquid at room temperature. It is prepared simply mixing two solids: urea and choline chloride. This electrolyte was initially studied by Abbott et al. in 2003. They then gave evidence of the potential of ionic liquids based on choline chloride electropolishing successfully stainless steel.
Recent studies at LNL have confirmed that electropolishing of niobium with this electrolyte is possible.