UOA09-05: How to build a particle accelerator
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Oxford
Unit of AssessmentPhysics
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Physical Sciences: Atomic, Molecular, Nuclear, Particle and Plasma Physics, Other Physical Sciences
Summary of the impact
This outreach event presents the principles and applications of particle
accelerators. It has resulted
in increased interest in and knowledge of particle accelerators by over
greater knowledge and ability of schoolteachers to incorporate content,
experiments related to accelerator science into their teaching; and wider
awareness in the general
public of many kinds of particle accelerators and their uses (e.g. in
medicine and industry). The
beneficiaries extend beyond audiences of shows presented by the University
of Oxford through
delivery by other institutions in the UK and Germany, and downloads of
A substantial body of work on the design, development and operation of
particle accelerators has
been carried out in the Department of Physics at Oxford over the last
twenty years, and led in 2006
to the establishment of the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science
(JAI). The JAI is co-
hosted by the Departments of Physics at Oxford, Royal Holloway University
of London and (from
April 2012) Imperial College, but research described here was undertaken
by Oxford physicists.
Whatever their size, particle accelerators share common requirements for acceleration,
collision with the intended target and detection.
Highlights of this research include
- Contributions by Professors Brian Foster, Philip Burrows and current
JAI Director Andrei Seryi
to the technical design of the International Linear Collider (ILC), a
superconducting accelerator and collider experiment .
Foster is Director (Europe) for the
Global Design Effort that has coordinated worldwide R&D since 2007.
Foster has been a
Professor at Oxford since 2003, Burrows since 2006 and Seryi since 2010.
- Development by Burrows of state-of-the-art accelerator control through
beam position monitor
(BPM) signal processing , feedback processors, and
amplifier systems, as part of the
research and development for the ILC, the Compact Linear Collider and
other future collider
- Development and demonstration by Foster and others of novel
`laser-wire' beam diagnostics
for the control of future colliders, using lasers to monitor
non-invasively the transverse position
of electron beams with µm cross-section .
- Professor Ken Peach, PDRA Takeichiro Yokoi and graduate student
Suzanne Sheehy were
part of the CONFORM collaboration that achieved acceleration in the
implementation of an alternative design of compact electron accelerator
in 2011, motivated by
requirements in medical physics. In parallel, they developed with PDRA
Holger Witte a design
for a proton and carbon ion accelerator using the same principles and
patented the resulting
magnet design. Peach was the founding Director (2005-10) of the JAI and
retired in 2011;
Yokoi (2007-2012), Sheehy (2007-10) and Witte (2007-11) also all worked
in the JAI at Oxford.
- Development and demonstration by Dr George Doucas of the use of
generated by particles passing over a grating to measure longitudinal
particle bunch shape ,
which is leading to improved control of accelerators with ultra-short
particle bunches. Doucas
was a Senior Research Associate (1991-2007) in Oxford until his
retirement in 2007.
- Developments led by Dr Riccardo Bartolini through research in
non-linear beam dynamics at
the Diamond synchrotron light source  have improved
its performance. This was exemplified
by Diamond attaining the world record for vertical beam confinement
(`emittance') in storage
rings in 2009, representing an unprecedented reduction of beam size and
has held a joint appointment as a lecturer at Oxford and Head of the
Group at Diamond Light Source since 2007.
The applications of particle accelerators not only to particle physics
but to other physical sciences,
life sciences and medicine, and the characteristics necessary for
successful implementation, have
guided some of the JAI's research. For example, the constraints of
medical applications have
guided new accelerator designs; the stability and performance required
for practical synchrotron
light sources have motivated better monitoring and control [4,5]; and particle detectors first
developed for the ILC have been adapted for spatial imaging in mass
spectrometry by Dr Andrei
Nomerotski (Lecturer in Oxford 2005-12). The awareness of these
requirements and the
capabilities that accelerators can offer have thus been an integral part
of this research.
References to the research
(Oxford authors underlined; *denotes 3 most indicative of quality)
1. *B. Foster, P. Burrows and A. Seryi
co-editors with 41 others (2013). The International Linear
Collider Technical Design Report: Volume 3: Accelerator (Parts I &
This design report to the International Committee for Future
Accelerators is the culmination of
over five years' work as part of the Global Design Effort of the ILC
project. It sets out the
blueprint for the design of the ILC accelerator. Burrows was the lead
editor of sections 3.6 and
4.5 in addition to being an editor of the entire volume.
2. J. Resta-Lopez, P.N. Burrows and G. Christian
(2010). Luminosity performance studies of the
compact linear collider with intra-train feedback system at the
JINST 5 P09007. doi:10.1088/1748-0221/5/09/P09007
3. A. Aryshev et al. [19 authors including B.Foster, R.Walczak
and 7 others from Oxford] (2010).
Micron size laser-wire system at the ATF extraction line, recent results
and ATF-II upgrade.
Nucl. Instr. and Meth. A623, 564. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2010.03.071
4. *G. Doucas, V. Blackmore, B. Ottewell, C.
Perry, E. Castro-Camus, M.B. Johnston, J.L.
Hughes, P.G. Huggard, M.F. Kimmitt, B. Redlich and A. van der Meer
electron bunch profile diagnostics at 45-MeV using coherent
Phys.Rev.ST Accel.Beams 9 092801. doi:10.1103/PhysRevSTAB.9.092801
5. *R. Bartolini, P. Kuske, F. Schmidt, I.P.S. Martin, J.H.
Correction of multiple nonlinear resonances in storage rings.
Phys.Rev.ST Accel.Beams 11 104002. doi:10.1103/PhysRevSTAB.11.104002
Details of the impact
[A], [B] etc are references to corroborating sources listed in
Public engagement in accelerator science
Accelerate! is an outreach show that has been delivered in the UK
and Germany to over 7,700
schoolchildren, in most cases aged 11-18. The ideas were developed by
Sheehy and Foster with
advice from Emmanuel Tsesmelis (CERN and Visiting Professor at Oxford)
and supported by an
STFC Small Award for £7,898 (ST/G502047/1, 2008-10). Its aim is to
engage children in the
excitement of accelerator science, and to build on the public interest
in the LHC to explain more
The show is structured around the principal elements of a particle
accelerator: particles, energy,
control, collision and detection. The show also emphasises that the
minority of accelerators are
designed for particle physics (e.g. the Large Hadron Collider and
International Linear Collider)
while the majority are for medicine, industry or research in other
disciplines (e.g. Diamond). It thus
not only relies on a fundamental understanding of challenges in
accelerator science, but also
draws on current projects in the JAI for both existing and future
accelerators across a range of
potential applications. For example, a real prototype of a 30 GHz RF
cavity from the Compact
Linear Collider project based at CERN is shown to illustrate continuing
development in the field.
The show gives demonstrations that provide specific insights into
accelerator science. For
example, an interactive map of accelerators in UK (excluding industry)
is used to locate the accelerator
nearest to the venue, which is often found to be in a hospital; and a
`Mexican wave' transporting beach
balls through audience participation (original to this project)
illustrates the acceleration of charged
particles by a radiofrequency wave.
Primary audiences: attendees and benefits received
The first performances of Accelerate! were in December 2008. So
far it has been performed by
teams from Oxford Physics 76 times, in schools and elsewhere around the
UK, to a total of over
5300 students, 280 teachers and 995 members of the public [A].
This includes sixteen
performances at the British Science Festival in September 2010 to over
1000 students aged 11-14.
Respondents to surveys held in some of the early shows (from 487
feedback forms from
schoolchildren), agreed or strongly agreed with the following opinions [A]:
- 78% `understood the science'
- 91% thought `the presenters did a good job'
- 43% were `interested in physics' and 33% `not interested' before
they saw the show
- 62% were `more interested in physics now they've seen the show' and
only 7.6% not
Wider uptake and sustainability
From the beginning, Accelerate! was designed to be presented
predominantly by graduate student
volunteers who pass on their expertise to more junior colleagues,
thereby ensuring the
continuation of the project and that the age difference to the audience
is minimised. In 2012,
Andrew Steele, also an Oxford Physics graduate student, developed some
resources and training
for new participants outside Oxford, supported by an award of £9,629
from STFC (ST/J501827/1)
and £10,000 (including in-kind support) from the South East Physics
Network, SEPnet. As a
result, a `toolkit' to allow others to put on their own versions was
made available online, under a
Creative Commons licence.
One of the demonstrations used in the show is a simple cloud chamber,
adapted from a teachers'
workshop at CERN. To enable others to include this in their own
presentations, Sheehy and
Steele made a video of its construction and demonstration that has had
over 25,000 views on
YouTube [B]. A podcast of an entire performance in
Oxford has been downloaded approximately
200 times since February 2012.
The SEPnet group of universities now delivers Accelerate! under
licence [C] and by February 2013
they had given 20 additional shows to over 1880 attendees. Foster
founded a team at the DESY
laboratory in Hamburg, Germany, to adapt the concepts of Accelerate!
for their own show in
German, known as Rennmaschinen [D], which
attracted 560 children and 166 adults over its first
seven performances (April 2012 - June 2013).
Benefits to teachers
Accelerate! has been performed specifically for teachers twice at
a conference in York and once in
Oxford, with a total audience of 130. Of the 103 survey responses
received, 92 indicated they
would recommend the show to other teachers and 87 considered it to be a
good way to help
students understand concepts in physics.
A training session for teachers by Sheehy, drawing on experience and
Accelerate!, formed part of the annual Accelerator and Particle
Physics Education at A-Level
(APPEAL) one-day course in Oxford (2010-2013) in collaboration with
CERN. Approximately 20
teachers attended each year. Comments received from participants in 2010
"You have all inspired me to do some background reading and learn a
"I have been inspired to try to increase the prestige and attainment in
Physics in my
school through a trip to CERN."
The 16 teachers who responded to online evaluation surveys in 2010 and
2012 considered they
had gained a better understanding of particle physics and accelerators
and that it would help their
teaching at AS/A level [E]. Eleven teachers from 2010
and 2011 responded to a follow-up
questionnaire in 2012: all reported that it had informed their teaching
`a great deal' or `quite a lot',
identifying `up to date information' as one of the most useful aspects,
and all but one had
undertaken some other follow-up activity [E]. The
APPEAL course is now well established:
APPEAL-4 was delivered in June 2013 and included a presentation by
Sheehy on applications of
particle accelerators. Sheehy's session was also incorporated in CERN's
High School Teachers
programme in 2010 (60 participants) [F].
External recognition and invitations
The John Adams Institute led a team, with a number of collaborative
partners and sponsors, that
successfully proposed and developed an exhibit for the prestigious Royal
Society Summer Science
Exhibition in 2009 [G]. This exhibit, `Accelerators
Everywhere: From the Big Bang to curing cancer',
emphasised the practical applications of accelerators and included
hands-on activities informed by
the experiences of Accelerate!. The exhibition as a whole was
visited by over 4000 members of
the public [H].
At the 2010 British Science Festival, Sheehy gave the 2010 Lord Kelvin
Physical Sciences Award
Lecture discussing the funding of international accelerator experiments
and wrote a guest blog
describing the Accelerate! show. Andrew Steele was invited to
co-present for an episode of the
`How Do' series on ITV Meridian in 2010, answering the question "How do
you make science fun?"
using a number of Accelerate! demonstrations. The four annual
finalists for the Institute of Physics'
Very Early Career Physics Communicators Award have included both Sheehy
in 2011 [I] and
Steele in 2012.
Coverage on BBC Radio Oxford has widened the reach further. An
interview about Accelerate! at
the Cooper School, Bicester, for the Oxford Science Roadshow, was
featured on `Daytime with
Danny and Lou' on 11th March 2009. In January 2010, the Breakfast show
with Malcolm Boyden
featured a 5 minute demonstration with explanations by Suzie Sheehy,
Andrew Steele and
Rosalind West (4 - 8th January 2010).
Sources to corroborate the impact
Impact on audiences in Oxford
A. Records of performances 2008-13 and evaluation data held on file in
Reach beyond our own audiences:
B. Download statistics for video on cloud chamber:
C. SEPnet brochure advertising Accelerate! and acknowledging
D. Accelerate! as source of material for the DESY show:
Significance to teachers:
E. Evaluation data from APPEAL, held on file in Oxford
F. CERN HST agenda, 2010 http://indico.cern.ch/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=96344
External recognition of effectiveness of outreach:
G. Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (RSSSE) 2009, `Accelerators
H. RSSSE 2009 audience figures from the Royal Society: report held on
file in Oxford
I. 2011 Very Early Career Physics Communicator Award: