The 2020 vision: the new face of accelerator science at Fermilab


Swapan Chattopadhyay, Northern Illinois University professor and director of accelerator science and joint appointee with Fermilab in the directorate and Accelerator Division (APC), wrote this column.

Recently I had the privilege of being asked by the laboratory leadership to bring a fresh perspective and lead a working group on accelerator science during the Strategic 10-year Plan Workshop (services account login required), which met from Jan. 7-8. Our group, which includes Director Nigel Lockyer, set aside two full days, focusing on six thematic areas critical to the laboratory: neutrinos; LHC long-range plan; projects and facilities; exploring the unknown; cosmic program; and accelerator science. The fact that accelerator science was included as a strategic theme in the laboratory’s long-range planning exercise already signals winds of change.

The five highest priority strategic objectives that emerged from this exercise in the accelerator science theme are:

• Use and advance accelerator science to extend the scientific reach of existing facilities. Improved performance of Fermilab accelerators with intense beams and low losses are critical to achieving the muon and neutrino programmatic goals. Developing comprehensive theoretical, computational and experimental tools as our core competencies will position us to assist other laboratories with similar challenges.

• Establish an advanced beam test facility using protons and electrons to address key questions related to intense yet affordable future accelerators and enable a transformative accelerator science program. Fermilab must complete the construction of the Integrable Optics Test Accelerator, including its injector, define its science program and build community interest via university-lab partnerships in a timely fashion.

• Explore the scientific limits to achievable acceleration and quality factor for future superconducting accelerators. Continuously operating accelerators, for example LCLS-II and PIP-II in the immediate future and 1- to 100-TeV-scale particle colliders in the far future, will need enhanced acceleration capabilities and reduced losses to enable energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness and technology translation to affordable compact industrial accelerators.

• Position Fermilab to be an essential contributor to future large accelerators under consideration. Advanced capabilities in high-field magnets, high-performance superconducting linear accelerators and beam dynamics will position the laboratory to be a major player in future high-energy facilities.

• Show relevance of our science to U.S. competitiveness via the Illinois Accelerator and Research Center platform as an enabler of technology transfer to address industrial and societal grand challenges of health, security, energy and environment. We need a timely launch of projects with joint partnership of university, industry and laboratory.

There is also the emerging recognition to enhance the academic profile of the accelerator community. We have learned last week about the appointment of Sergei Nagaitsev to the level of professor part-time at the University of Chicago.

Vladimir Shiltsev

I have the pleasure of announcing today that Vladimir Shiltsev has been appointed as adjunct professor at Northern Illinois University. He joins other Fermilab adjunct professors at universities, strengthening our academic collaboration in accelerator science even further.

As we enter the next decade of forefront accelerator research at the laboratory, we look forward to many transformative developments stemming from Fermilab accelerator research in such emerging areas as microwave and applied superconductivity, nonlinear dynamics, precision optical control of single particles in circulating beams and structured nanomaterials as particle sources, in addition to developing accelerators at the intensity frontier for particle physics.