Cornell U Lands $23 Million for Science and Technology Center

Beam accelerators at Cornell University are about to get a lot brighter. The university was awarded $23 million from the National Science Foundation to build a center dedicated to enhancing beam accelerator capabilities, including making them 100 times more intense.

The proposed Center for Bright Beams (CBB) at Cornell is part of the NSF’s Science and Technology Center program, in which four universities will receive up to $24 million each over a five-year period to develop new approaches to science and engineering. Cornell, a key institution in beam accelerator research, is tasked with studying beam production, acceleration, transportation and storage.

Particle accelerators produce powerful X-ray and electron beams that show the structure of biological molecules and materials, down to the structure of the proton. According to the Cornell Chronicle, approximately 10,000 researchers in the United States rely on beam accelerators for research in fields such as physics, chemistry, materials science. CBB’s resulting bright beam technology will be used to advance research, as well as industry applications like “accelerator components, electron microscopy, photolithography and water inspection,” according to the NSF program site.

“Beam science enables these devices, but questions in beam science require a new approach,” Ritchie Patterson, principal investigator for the CBB, told the Cornell Chronicle. “To realize the full potential of beams for science and industry, we need to combine the expertise of accelerators physicists with the knowledge of tools of scientists and mathematicians from a wide range of disciplines.”

The CBB’s objective “is to decrease the cost of key accelerator technologies while simultaneously increasing the intensity (‘brightness’) of charged particle beams by two orders of magnitude,” or about 100 times more intense, according to the NSF program site.

“Our vision is to develop the fundamental knowledge that is required to improve the performance and lower the costs of accelerator technologies,” said Steven Sibener, a physical chemistry professor at the University of Chicago who will help lead the center. “We will leverage the diverse experience available at universities and national labs, and will transfer the knowledge and technology back to them.”

The new center will have help from the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Science and Education (CLASSE), which studies beams and accelerators, photon science, particle physics and the early universe. The center will also collaborate with the University of Chicago; Chicago State University; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Berkeley; University of Florida; University of Maryland at College Park; Brigham Young University; Morehouse College; Clark Atlanta University; and University of Toronto.

Further information about the proposed center is available on the NSF site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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