U.S. Particle Accelerator School

Accelerator Physics course

Sponsoring University:

University of Texas at Austin


Accelerator Physics (graduate level)


Eric Prebys, Fermilab

Purpose and Audience
This course will provide a comprehensive overview of the underlying physics of modern particle accelerators and some of their related technologies, in the context of understanding the current state of the art and important challenges in the field of accelerator physics. It is intended for students who have a background in mechanics and E&M at least at the level of what's expected when entering graduate school in physics.

This course or its equivalent is generally considered a prerequisite for more advanced and specific topics in accelerator physics.


The course will be taught at a level assuming that students have completed a standard physics curriculum, up to and including:

In particular, students will be expected to be familiar with

In addition, it's worth noting that many of the students taking this course will already have had some experience with particle accelerators. If this is your first exposure to the topic, it's strongly recommended that you familiarize yourself with some of the basic concepts prior to the start. A useful resource is Fermilab's "Accelerator Concepts Rookie Book" (Concepts_v3.6.pdf), which is used as a reference by accelerator operators. Much of it is specific to Fermilab, but chapters II-IV are fairly general, albeit with local examples. Regardless of your background, if you come to the course with at least a qualitative understanding of the concepts and terminology in those chapters, you should find the lecture material more clearly motivated and hopefully find learning it a bit easier.

Although there will be a small number of assignments that involve some simple computer modeling, no particular computing or programming skills are required.

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

At the completion of the course, students will be expected to understand the basic physics and jargon related to modern particle accelerators. In addition, they will have some quantitative understanding of the current limiting factors and areas of active research. This course should give them a solid background to effectively investigate specific advanced topics on their own in more detail if they wish.

Instructional Method
The course consists of daily lectures, with problem sets given each day. The problem sets will be discussed at an evening study session and will be due the next day. Some exercises will involve simple computer modeling, but there is no formal lab component to the course. There will be a final take home exam at the end of the course.

Course Content
After a brief historical overview, the bulk of the course will be a in-depth and fairly rigorous treatment of fundamental accelerator physics related to acceleration and longitudinal and transverse motion, including a variety of factors related to stability. Standard techniques for beam manipulation and instrumentation will also be covered. The final part of the course will be a quantitative overview of the current state of the art, which will include the hadron energy frontier, electron energy frontier, high intensity accelerators, potential muon accelerators and colliders, free electron lasers and light sources. Novel acceleration techniques will be discussed as time permits.

Reading Requirements
(to be provided by the USPAS) “An Introduction to the Physics of High Energy Accelerators”, by D. A. Edwards and M. J. Syphers, John Wiley & Sons (1993).

As discussed above, reading chapters II-IV of Fermilab's "Accelerator Concepts Rookie Book" (Concepts_v3.6.pdf) prior to beginning course is highly recommended.

Additional suggestions for further reading will be discussed in class.

Credit Requirements

The course grade will be based on the graded homework sets (60%) and the final exam (40%).

IU/USPAS course: Physics 570