Accelerators
22 Feb 2011
Yes
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Currently, around 17000 accelerators exist in the world and these are used for a variety of applications including medicine, semi-conductor manufacture and understanding the structure of materials.

 

​​The layout of a neutrino factory from a recent international study

 

Accelerator R&D

Currently, around 17000 accelerators exist in the world and these are used for a variety of applications including medicine, semi-conductor manufacture and understanding the structure of materials. About 100 of these are used for fundamental physics studies, including the accelerators in CERN, Fermilab, etc.

PPD works on a number of projects undertaking R&D on accelerators for both Particle Physics and for medical applications.

The neutrino factory

The Neutrino Factory is a possible future facility for creating very intense beams of neutrinos to make detailed studies of the phenomenon of neutrino oscillations. It is a potential successor to the T2K experiment and a possible future facility for the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

The facility will consist of a number of different accelerators and most of these are beyond the state of the art. This has led to the creation of several R&D projects to understand how these can be built, for example MICE, the Front End Test Stand project, studies of pion production targets and EMMA (see below).

PPD also leads a European Commission 7th Framework Programme design study to investigate future high intensity neutrino oscillation facilities. This study is called EUROν and has recently officially started work

​EMMA and PAMELA

The BASROC project has been created to study a novel type of accelerator, a so-called non-scaling FFAG, for a variety of applications. However, so far no such accelerator has ever been built, so the first step in the project is to build one and study in detail how it works. This proof-of-principle non-scaling FFAG is called EMMA and is currently being constructed at the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire. The studies of EMMA will use a beam produced by another accelerator at Daresbury called ALICE. The EMMA project leader is a member of PPD.

One of the main applications under study is the use of non-scaling FFAGs to accelerate "hadrons", in particular protons and carbon ions, for the treatment of cancer, so-called hadron therapy. The aim of this work is the design of a carbon therapy accelerator, to be called PAMELA.

EMMA
EMMA: the world's first non-scaling FFAG

BNCT

Boron Neutron Capture Therapy is another form of hadron therapy, this time using very low energy neutrons. In BNCT, the tumour is doped with a boron-10 carrying compound. The neutrons interact with the boron to produce an alpha particle and a lithium nucleus and these destroy the cancerous cell in which they are created. However, a large number of low energy neutrons are required. We are working with a group from Birmingham University who already have a BNCT facility in which the neutrons are made using an accelerator. Our aim is to increase the neutron fluence to the level at which clinical trials of the therapy are possible.

BNCT
An experimental neutron production station for BNCT in Birmingham University.
Credit: S.Green

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