Steps On The Accelerator Pedal

Steps On The Accelerator Pedal
Two major research centres opened today (19th September), bringing the UK to the forefront of international efforts in Accelerator Science and Technology. The Cockcroft Institute and the John Adams Institute will both be national focal points for UK researchers and companies to develop cutting-edge accelerator technologies for major new projects such as the International Linear Collider and a Neutrino Factory.

Prof Keith Mason, Chief Executive of PPARC said "UK physicists carry the responsibility for key detector components and often hold leadership positions in most major experiments around the world. The establishment of these two centres of excellence will consolidate that position and ensure that the UK continues to make significant scientific and technological contributions to the next generation of frontline accelerators worldwide". Commenting on the technology transfer prospects Prof Mason added, "The new Accelerator Institutes will build strong links between the research community and high technology industry to ensure that knowledge transfer takes place between the two and that UK companies are well positioned to win future contracts for work in this sector".

The International Linear Collider is currently under design in a co-ordinated global effort. It will collide electrons with their antimatter partner, positrons, creating interactions which will reveal how the evolution of the Universe began in its earliest moments. It will provide answers to the most basic questions about the laws which govern this evolution.

Prof John DaintonProf John Wood, Chief Executive of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) said, "CCLRC's Accelerator Science and Technology Centre designed and commissioned the most advanced accelerators in the country and has led UK involvement with a number of other projects around the world. Our in-depth collaborations with both these new institutes will help give the UK's researchers and companies a competitive advantage in this demanding but strategically important area".

Accelerator science underpins a wide range of scientific disciplines, from medical imaging, photon and neutron sources for studying materials and biological structures to particle colliders that recreate the conditions shortly after the Big Bang. Some of these projects are constructed on a global scale - the next machine to be built in particle physics is so large that there will only be one in the world - the International Linear Collider (ILC).

Prof John Dainton, Director of the Cockcroft Institute said "The International Linear Collider is currently under design in a co-ordinated global effort. It will collide electrons with their antimatter partner, positrons, creating interactions which will reveal how the evolution of the Universe began in its earliest moments. It will provide answers to the most basic questions about the laws which govern this evolution".

He added "UK scientists are deeply involved in the development of many new technologies, all of which address the critical issue of how to produce beams of sufficient intensity, and how to make them collide head-on".

The two Institutes are also heavily involved in the research and development needed to study neutrinos - mysterious particles that easily pass through most solid objects (even the whole planet Earth!) and which seem to change their nature between production and detection. This is only possible if neutrinos have mass but in the Standard Model of particle physics (the basic description of modern particle physics) they are strictly massless. Researchers need more information about the properties of the neutrinos in order to develop more fundamental theories about their role in the Universe, including the possibility that this odd behaviour of neutrinos could explain why the Universe contains only matter and not equal amounts of matter and antimatter.

Developing new ways of creating intense beams of neutrinos is very challenging, and will lead to new accelerator technologies that could have a big impact in other branches of science, industry and medicine.

Prof Ken PeachProf Ken Peach, Director of the John Adams Institute said "Developing new ways of creating intense beams of neutrinos is very challenging, and will lead to new accelerator technologies that could have a big impact in other branches of science, industry and medicine. If these developments are successful, a Neutrino Factory capable of directing very intense beams of neutrinos towards detectors on the other side of the Earth could be built, perhaps here in the UK".

The Cockcroft Institute was officially opened by Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science and Innovation, in the presence of the children of Sir John Cockcroft, the Nobel prize-winner who is regarded as the founder of modern accelerator research. The John Adams Institute was opened by Christopher Adams, son of the accelerator designer and engineer Sir John Adams after whom the Institute is named.

The Cockcroft Institute and the John Adams Institute were set up by PPARC in partnership with the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC). The Cockcroft Institute is located on the newly opened Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus and is a joint venture of the two research councils with the Universities of Liverpool, Lancaster and Manchester and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). The John Adams Institute is located at both the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway University London and is a partnership between those two Universities and the two research councils.


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