Aligning future accelerators

Vladimir Shiltsev

Vladimir Shiltsev, director of the Accelerator Physics Center, wrote this column.

Two weeks ago, Fermilab hosted the International Workshop on Accelerator Alignment. The IWAA is the workshop to attend to learn what is happening in the world of accelerators, since all modern accelerators need precise alignment.

This was the 12th meeting since the series started about 20 years ago, and I have participated in or contributed papers to almost all of them since the beginning. Robert Ruland chaired the first IWAA in 1989 at SLAC, and like so many other participants, he has become a good friend of mine. This year Horst Friedsam, head of the Fermilab Alignment Group, chaired the committee that organized the workshop. Horst and I have worked together since the early 1990s when he was working on the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne and when I was conducting research for the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas.

Precise alignment of accelerator components was of great importance for the Tevatron and will be critical for the next generation of colliders as well as for Fermilab’s future experiments, such as LBNE, Mu2e, the Muon Collider and Project X.

During the four-day workshop, participants discussed a broad range of issues, including how to build super-stable slabs for the motion-sensitive components of third-generation light sources in Europe; the role that precise alignment of accelerator components played in the successful startup of the first X-ray free-electron laser at SLAC; the significant progress that has been made in understanding stabilization and alignment of the proposed CLIC linear collider at CERN; and the effects that changes in the soil properties had on the KEK B-factory after the Fukushima earthquake. Fermilab’s Jim Volk reported seeing day-long earth vibration modes in the water-level detector data from the systems he installed in Fermilab’s MINOS hall after that devastating quake, as well as at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, S.D.

It was a very fruitful meeting of experts in accelerator alignment. I am sure we will consult many of them as we are working on Fermilab’s near-, medium- and long-term accelerator projects.