March 21, 2003  


ORION Planning Workshop Held

By Tom Mead

The second three-day workshop planning the capabilities of the ORION Center for Advanced Accelerator and Beam Physics Research concluded on February 20 at SLAC.

In keeping with the international mix of the 95 workshop registrants, ORION, like SSRL, will be a university and national laboratory collaboration. It will be a center of, and dedicated user facility for, experimental research in plasma and laser acceleration of particles, beam-plasma physics, ultra-short pulse electron and radiation sources, and potentially, laboratory astrophysics.

As Tom Katsouleas, USC Professor of Engineering and co-director of the nascent ORION Center, noted, "It is at the highest energies that we see Nature on the smallest of scales. The realities within those smallest scales are the foundation upon which the origin of our Universe, stable matter, galaxies, and ultimately life, depends. The development of entirely new approaches to reaching such high energies is, at its heart, the true motivation behind ORION."

This graphic shows how the unique interrelationships of the ORION Center and its state-of-the-art facilities (outer circle) converge to enable advances in basic physics (mid-level), ultimately leading to the energy frontier. (Graphic by Tom Katsouleas (USC) and ScientificArts Media)

"But ORION is about more than developing future accelerators. It turns out that the short bunches, lasers and plasmas involved in these new approaches exhibit in themselves rich new physical behavior that ORION will unveil along the journey toward the high energy frontier."

Research will begin, at inception of the Center, with experiments at the Final Focus Test Beam (FFTB), an extensively instrumented beamline at the end of the SLAC main linac that can deliver 30 GeV electron and positron beams. The FFTB will be available for two or three more years.

In the longer-term, these experimental activities will be concentrated at the ORION facility, funded through the Center. The ORION Facility will be based on the Next Linear Collider Test Accelerator (NLCTA), operating at SLAC, which is capable of providing beams from 50 to 350 MeV in energy. For ORION, the NLCTA will be augmented with a new high-brightness photoinjector source, two experimental halls, extraction beam lines, a user laser room and a data acquisition area.

The Center is being designed to provide for the research needs of the users. Thus, this workshop was used to explore the range of experiments envisioned by potential users and to review the types of beams available as well as the desired beam parameters. The workshop was an opportunity for the research community to provide input on the facility’s test beams, layout, shared diagnostic equipment, simulation and computing capabilities, and user support infrastructure.

"This workshop," said Katsouleas, "was extremely useful for assuring that ORION builds in the flexibility to serve as many user experiments as possible. I think the science on ORION’s plate is excellent and the enthusiasm of the participants at the workshop reflected this."

The ORION project arose because particle physics addresses fundamental questions about the origin of mass and the observed symmetries in nature. Historically, these types of questions have been answered at the highest energies—the energy frontier—and science discoveries have emerged hand-in-hand with the exponential growth of machine energies. Thus, advanced accelerator research is essential to the future of particle physics.

There are advanced accelerator concepts based on plasmas, lasers, high-gradient radio frequency structures and novel technologies. They hold the significant promise of continuing the growth in available energy and, through it, profound new insights into nature.

Results from the workshop will help determine the facility’s design, as well as help SLAC management plan for future on-site user needs. Construction is expected to start in October 2003, and the first beam for experiments is planned for 2005. The primary developers of the facility are the University of Southern California, the University of California at Los Angeles, Stanford University and SLAC. 


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Thursday March 20, 2003 by Kathy B