U.S. Particle Accelerator School

Compact Superconducting Cyclotrons course

Sponsoring University:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Compact Superconducting Cyclotrons and Their Applications


Timothy A. Antaya, MIT

Purpose and Audience
This course will present an emerging new class of compact superconducting cyclotrons: their key properties, the enabling technologies, and their applications in basic science, medicine and security. The course is suitable for senior undergraduate and entry-level graduate students in physics and engineering, or students from other fields with an interest in particular applications.

Either previous coursework or a general understanding of classical physics and electromagnetism is needed to follow and participate in this accelerator course. College courses in special relativity, classical mechanics and electrodynamics at a junior undergraduate level or higher will make key concepts presented in the lectures and assignments fully accessible. Basic understandings of magnetic fields and superconductivity are helpful but not essential. 

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that he or she meets the course prerequisites or has equivalent experience.

This course focuses on the compact superconducting cyclotrons, how they work, what they have in common with, as well as how they are different from other cyclotrons and what they are being used for. Upon completing this course, students should understand the key characteristics of compact superconducting cyclotrons, their performance and the beams they produce, and how they are now being used in medicine, security and basic science applications.

Instructional Method
This course will offer a series of lectures on compact superconducting cyclotrons during the morning sessions, followed by afternoon lecture sessions devoted to applications and specific cyclotron designs for these applications. Demonstrations will be made to illustrate key concepts. A field trip to a local cyclotron facility will be arranged. There will be at least one extended practical exercise during the course. Homework problems will be assigned each day and the instructor will be available to help answer questions about the homework and lectures during the evening exercise sessions. There will be a final exam on the last day of the class.

Course Content
In the morning sessions, cyclotron basics, magnetic field design, beam formation, acceleration and extraction will presented both in a general way and then in the context of high field cyclotrons. Essential technologies, including ion sources, RF structures, beam diagnostics, cryogenics, and superconductivity will also be presented and reviewed as necessary. Important beam physics concepts necessary to understand compact superconducting cyclotrons will be derived from first principles without assumptions. In the afternoons each day, an emerging application (low cost radiotherapy, point of use isotope production, active interrogation for the detection of strategic nuclear materials, and neutrino physics) will be introduced and explained, followed by a discussion of the design and performance of both conventional and compact superconducting cyclotrons intended for that application.

Reading Requirements
If available in your locale, John J. Livingood’s "Principles of Cyclic Particle Accelerators" (QC786 .L761, Van Nostrand, NJ, 1961) makes a nice introduction of cyclotrons and key basic concepts such as phase stability. Optional reading materials will be supplied in electronic form.

Credit Requirements
Students will be evaluated based on performance: homework assignments (60% of final grade), practical exercise (10%), and the final exam (30% of final grade).

IU/USPAS course number P671