Fermilab is currently upgrading its accelerator complex to produce the world’s most powerful beam of high-energy neutrinos. To generate these particles, the accelerators will send an intense beam of protons traveling near the speed of light through a maze of particle accelerator components before passing through metallic “windows” and colliding with a stationary target. Researchers are testing the endurance of windows made of a titanium alloy, exposing samples to high-intensity proton beams to see how well the material will perform.

In electrospinning, a positive charge is applied to liquidized material to create thin strands that eventually harden into a solid, fibrous material. Photo: Reidar Hahn

Fermilab scientists are preparing for future, high-power particle beams with a technological advance inspired by spinning sugar. It’s a new type of target — the material that beams collide with to produce other particles, such as neutrinos. The target is designed to be able to withstand the heat from high-intensity beams, expanding the potential of experiments that use them. Researching this new patent-pending technology already has led to a TechConnect Innovation Award and might have applications in the medical field.