Bright beams, bright future

Sam Posen

Sam Posen

Vladimir Shiltsev

Vladimir Shiltsev

You may have read that the National Science Foundation recently awarded $94 million to support four new Science and Technology Centers across the United States. One of these is the Center for Bright Beams, or CBB, based at Cornell University. The center received $23 million to develop technologies for increasing particle beam brightness while decreasing the costs of these technologies. Fermilab is a key partner in this effort, participating in two research themes at the CBB.

One is beam acceleration. Many state-of-the-art particle accelerators use superconducting radio-frequency cavities made of niobium to transfer energy to the beam. Fermilab has recently begun development of alternative materials to niobium, with a focus on a niobium-tin alloy. A niobium-tin film just a few micrometers thick has been shown to substantially improve cryogenic efficiency relative to niobium, and theoretical predictions suggest this material may also allow accelerators to reach a given energy in a shorter distance than would be possible with niobium. Our partnership with the CBB will open new opportunities for collaboration with Cornell to improve our understanding of the related materials science and superconductivity theory. Sam Posen will lead Fermilab’s efforts on beam acceleration at the CBB.

Cornell University's Center for Bright Beams involves almost a dozen collaborators. Image: Center for Bright Beams, Cornell University

Cornell University’s Center for Bright Beams involves almost a dozen collaborators. Image: Center for Bright Beams, Cornell University

The second theme is beam transport and storage. Fermilab’s Intregable Optics Test Accelerator, or IOTA, is a storage ring that will operate with 70-MeV/c protons and up to 150-MeV/c electrons. It is designed for testing advanced accelerator physics concepts, including novel nonlinear beam optics systems based on magnets and electron lenses. Under the framework of the CBB, Fermilab accelerator scientists will work with Cornell and the University of Chicago toward common goals in the design and construction of these systems for IOTA and development of innovative instruments and diagnostics, as well as in conducting experimental beam tests. Fermilab Chief Accelerator Officer Sergei Nagaitsev will lead the lab’s participation in this theme at the CBB.

The goal of CBB is to be able to produce electron and proton beams up to 100 times brighter than what we can make now. High-brightness particle beams are of utmost importance for high-energy physics, especially for colliders and for Fermilab’s future accelerators for neutrino research, but they also have value for biology, chemistry and many other fields of science and technology.

Cornell scientists J. Ritchie Patterson and Georg Hoffstaetter are heading the CBB. They lead well-established and highly regarded accelerator science programs at Cornell. Partnered with Fermilab’s forefront accelerator R&D program and nearly a dozen other institutions, the newly NSF-funded initiative promises to push the cutting edge of what we can achieve with accelerators.

The establishment of the CBB is good news not only for high-energy physics, but also for areas such as the environment, energy conservation, industry, and medicine, all of which we’re working to advance using accelerator technology.

Congratulations to Cornell University and all CBB collaborators, including those at Fermilab and the University of Chicago, on this wonderful development!

Sam Posen is a scientist in Technical Division working on developing niobium-tin thin films for accelerating cavities. He was recently awarded a five-year DOE Early Career Research Award to pursue this work. Vladimir Shiltsev is the director of the Fermilab Accelerator Physics Center and is the program leader for IOTA and the Fermilab Accelerator Science and Technology Facility.