U.S. Particle Accelerator School

Accelerator Physics, Technology, and Discovery: Case Studies at the Edge of the Possible course

Sponsoring University:

Texas A&M University


Accelerator Physics, Technology, and Discovery: Case Studies at the Edge of the Possible


Peter McIntyre and Akhdiyor Sattarov, Texas A&M University


Purpose and Audience
Extending the discovery potential of accelerators usually requires that we find a way to do the ‘impossible’: to accelerate more particles, to higher energy, in less phase space, with less money. Doing the impossible usually requires a combination of new technology, new ways of thinking about accelerator physics, and attention to the balance between cost and performance. Examples are discussed from the past, present, and possible future: colliding beams, asymmetric colliders, tripling LHC energy, ILC cavities, laser acceleration for a muon collider, accelerator-driven thorium-cycle fission power.

This course is suitable for senior undergraduate and graduate students and for engineers and technicians working in accelerator-related fields who wish to broaden their background.

General understanding of accelerator physics, courses in classical mechanics and electromagnetism, familiarity with numerical codes is helpful.

Innovation in extending the performance of accelerators requires a thorough knowledge of both the physics of accelerators and the technical systems that make them work. But that knowledge is not enough. Innovation requires close interplay between the technical design of key systems, the driving parameters of accelerator performance, and the needs for new discovery. It also requires an entrepreneurial spirit for how to do more with less. This kind of thinking is not usually taught in courses, and is elusive to characterize except by case studies.

Instructional Method
The course will be taught by analyzing case studies. For each case the context is set - why is the existing base of accelerator physics and technology unable to meet a new challenge? The technological limits are analyzed. The way of thinking from the usual accelerator physics is discussed. The trade-offs of cost and performance are analyzed. In this context the new innovations are examined: who came up with the ideas, how did they put them together, what was important in success or failure?

Course Content
During the first week one case study will be undertaken each day. The students will be expected to complete assigned readings for each case study before its day begins. The morning will be spent in lectures on the problem and its solution. During the afternoon students will use analytic tools and numerical codes to calculate key aspects of the accelerator challenge, the research objective, and key technical components. Codes that may be used include ALGOR, VECTOR FIELDS, and appropriate lattice codes.

During the second week of the course students will group in teams of three and undertake an in-depth analysis of a past or present challenge and the key elements that must be included in attacking it. The instructors will be available to work with each team as necessary during the mornings.

Reading Requirements
(to be provided by the USPAS) "Particle Accelerator Physics I", Springer-Verlag (2003) by Helmut Wiedemann. Additional handouts with supplementary material will be provided by the course instructors.

Credit Requirements
Students will be evaluated based on performance: homework assignments (35% of final grade) computer/lab sessions (30% of final grade), and group case study report (30% of final grade).