A physicist, an engineer and a scientist walk into a machine shop …

From left: Engineer Saravan Chandrasekaran, scientist Sam Posen and physicist A. Curtis Crawford calculate the deflection of an SRF cavity using a Bridgeport mill in the Village Machine Shop. Photo: Damon Bice

From left: Engineer Saravan Chandrasekaran, scientist Sam Posen and physicist A. Curtis Crawford calculate the deflection of an SRF cavity using a Bridgeport mill in the Village Machine Shop. Photo: Damon Bice

Talk about resourceful: Recently a Fermilab team used a mill in the Village Machine Shop not, as you might expect, to shave layers from an object, but rather to apply pressure to it.

The object was a superconducting radio-frequency (SRF) accelerating cavity, and the team was making measurements related to the accelerator for SLAC’s future Light Coherent Light Source, or LCLS-II.

Engineer Saravan Chandrasekaran, scientist Sam Posen and physicist A. Curtis Crawford don’t typically hang out at the Village Machine Shop. It is not, after all, the laboratory hub of SRF activity. But they realized the shop had just the right tool — a Bridgeport mill — to apply very fine amounts of pressure to the cavity. The team could then take precise measurements of the cavity’s response. Applying pressure is not, of course, what a mill is built to do, but it turned out to be an ingenious application of the tool.

Improvements to the design and processing of this type of cavity — a nine-cell, 1.3-gigahertz cavity — will inform that of production models that will eventually go into the LCLS-II linear accelerator.

The three-person team demonstrated that science and cooperation take place in all areas of the lab.

Editor’s note: If you have an interesting, high-quality photo that portrays a little-known slice of Fermilab life, submit it through Fermilab at Work. Include a short description and include the names of the people shown.