SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is home to a two-mile linear accelerator—the longest in the world. Originally a particle physics research center, SLAC is now a multipurpose laboratory for astrophysics, photon science, accelerator and particle physics research.
January 18, 2013
by Norbert Holtkamp
Norbert Holtkamp, director of the Accelerator Directorate at SLAC. (Credit: Brad Plummer)
“In mid-February, SLAC’s newest user facility, FACET – the Facility for Advanced Accelerator Experimental Tests – will launch into its startup. Approximately four weeks later, the first scientists will arrive to use FACET for a three-month run of experiments.
FACET, the Facility for Advanced aCcelerator Experimental Tests, uses two-thirds of the famous two-mile-long linear accelerator at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
FACET will host a large variety of experiments, but its main focus is on demonstrating a new acceleration technique, known as plasma wakefield acceleration, which promises to accelerate electrons to very high energies in a much shorter distance than possible today. This would be the equivalent of shrinking SLAC’s 2-mile-long linear accelerator into a box about 3 feet long.
An earlier experiment had already demonstrated that these steep acceleration gradients are possible. That experiment was successfully repeated last spring and achieved an acceleration gradient of 25 billion electronvolts per meter, reaching the equivalent of half the energy the SLAC linac can attain.
But many questions remain: Is plasma wakefield acceleration efficient? Can it be done routinely and reliably? Is the beam quality good enough? Can it accelerate positively charged positrons as well as negatively charged electrons? This last question is important if we are to use this technology to build an electron-positron collider for particle physics experiments – one of many important potential applications for miniaturized accelerators in science, industry and medicine.
A powerful international collaboration of scientists from universities and national laboratories is working on all these questions in parallel, and it is on us to deliver a high-quality electron beam, generated in the first 2 kilometers of the SLAC linac, to drive these plasma wakefield experiments.”
See the full article here.
SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.
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