Future accelerators: The next Colloquium

The Fermilab team with the world-record 300 T/s fast cycling dipole magnet prototype based on the high-temperature superconductivity technology, from left to right: Vladimir Shiltsev, Steve Hays and PI Henryk Piekarz. (Not pictured are Matt Kufer and Brad Claypool.)

World-renowned accelerator physicist and Fermilab Distinguished Scientist Vladimir Shiltsev will discuss prospects for accelerators in the future. Accelerator-based research is crucial to Fermilab’s science mission. I was honored to have a brief discussion with him. Here are some of the things we discussed.

Q: What is the first accelerator you ever worked on?
A: I extracted a tube from a TV set. I tried to repair it, but this was a miserable failure.

Q: But you have worked on other accelerators with better success?
A: Yes! Formally, I have made practical technical contributions for over 30 accelerators and projects, starting with the TRAPP 200 MeV proton synchrotron for cancer therapy in Novosibirsk and the VLEPP linear collider project in Protvino (the former USSR). Most recently, I worked on IOTA/FAST at Fermilab and the FACET-II ultra-intense bunch facility at SLAC.

Q: Aside from high-energy physics, what other uses are there for accelerators?
A: Cancer therapy (as with the first accelerators I worked on) and materials processing are among other applications for accelerators.

Q: What makes Fermilab a great place for building accelerators?
A: I look at accelerators as giant LEGO projects. We use different kinds of “blocks” — radio-frequency cavities, particle sources, targets, vacuum systems, controls, diagnostics and so on. We also need technically strong people coupled with continuing training for the next generation. Fermilab is one of the few places in the world with all of these ingredients. We “own” the accelerator technologies, and we have a rich combination of the right people. What else to wish for?

Q: It sounds like your colloquium will be of great interest to people building and operating accelerators.
A: Yes, accelerators and beams are a science, with specific scientific challenges, and international communities with conferences, journals and organizations. Even for experts in the field, there is always more to learn.

Q: What will the rest of us get from your colloquium?
A: The physics of beams and the techniques we use are beautiful to behold. I hope to share this with the audience. More practically, anyone interested in high-energy physics wants to know what the “bread and butter” instruments will be able to provide for their research. Where are accelerators going? Where are the limits? What is the current thinking about ultimate colliders?

Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us?
A: I hope people will like my talk! Bonnie Fleming gave an excellent presentation last week, showing us the new era of science at Fermilab. This talk will be quite different in scope and approach, but I hope just as rewarding.