April 2014

Advances in High Power Compact Accelerators

Argonne superconducting radiofrequency technology boosts a variety of applications.

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Image courtesy of ANL Physics Division

Assembly of high gradient SC cavities and SC solenoids in the clean room.

The Office of Nuclear Physics funds a community of scientists to do basic nuclear physics research that seeks to uncover the fundamental nature of matter. As a consequence of this basic research, many ideas and instruments (funded through various sources) have found their way into many different areas in public life as well as in other government programs. This highlight is an example of such a "spinoff".

The Science

Superconducting (SC) accelerating structures made from pure niobium are operated at liquid helium temperatures, slightly below -456°F, and can produce high power electron, proton or ion beams continuously. Thanks to recent advances in SC radiofrequency (SRF) technology, extremely high accelerating voltages generated by highly efficient SC resonators became available. Argonne National Laboratory pioneered and perfected a suite of SC resonators for efficient acceleration of protons and ions from ion source velocities to the speed of light.

The Impact

The advanced SRF technology is making it possible to build high-power compact proton and CW ion linear accelerators for isotope production facilities, high-intensity frontier research in high energy physics, accelerator-driven systems for nuclear waste transmutation or power generation, and high-intensity proton accelerators for industrial and homeland security applications.


The ANL Physics Division is carrying out fundamental research in SRF technology related to high-gradient superconducting resonators suitable for efficient acceleration of high-current proton and ion beams. This type of accelerator is required for transmutation of spent nuclear fuel to much shorter living isotopes. Material science studies which use neutron beams generated by high-intensity SRF-based accelerators are relevant to the development of advanced reactors, nuclear fuel cycle needs and fusion research. For inertial fusion, accelerators could compress and ignite fusion targets by ion beam bombardment and serve as efficient drivers for fusion reactors. High power proton and ion beams are required for the development of new radiation resistant materials for future reactors. High-power accelerator beams can also drive the next generation reactors that burn non-fissile fuel, such as thorium. ANL-developed SC accelerating structures for medium- and high-power CW accelerators are also directly applicable in other areas such as isotope production for science and medicine and cargo interrogation for homeland security.


Dr. Peter N. Ostroumov
Argonne National Laboratory


Office of Science Nuclear Physics (NP) program, Office of Science High Energy Physics (HEP) program, Soreq Nuclear Research Center, Israel


P.N. Ostroumov et al., R&D Towards CW Ion Linacs at ANL, Proceedings of the International Linac Conference, September 9-14, 2012, Tel-Aviv, Israel, p. 461.

Related Links

http://www.phy.anl.gov/accelerator_rd/index.htmlExternal link

http://accelconf.web.cern.ch/AccelConf/LINAC2012/papers/tupb046.pdfExternal link

http://accelconf.web.cern.ch/AccelConf/LINAC2012/talks/tuplb08_talk.pdfExternal link

http://accelconf.web.cern.ch/AccelConf/LINAC2012/papers/tuplb07.pdfExternal link

http://accelconf.web.cern.ch/AccelConf/LINAC2012/papers/mopb073.pdfExternal link

Highlight Categories

Program: HEP, NP

Performer/Facility: DOE Laboratory, SC User Facilities, NP User Facilities, ATLAS

Additional: Technology Impact, Collaborations, Non-DOE Interagency Collaboration, International Collaboration

Last modified: 11/19/2015 9:13:02 AM