The future of particle accelerators is here

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Behind the scenes of the Electron-Ion Collider, green accelerators that waste no energy, and chiral magnetic effect results debuting this summer

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Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

When the Electron Ion Collider received the go-ahead in January 2020, it became the only new major accelerator in the works anywhere in the world.

“All the stars aligned,” said Elke-Caroline Aschenauer, Brookhaven National Laboratory Staff Scientist and a leader in developing the EIC plans. “We have the technology to build this unique particle accelerator and detector to do the measurements that, together with the underlying theory, can for the first time provide answers to longstanding fundamental questions in nuclear physics.”

The EIC isn’t the only Brookhaven project poised to reshape nuclear and particle physics. Forthcoming data from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider could finally detect the elusive chiral magnetic effect. Meanwhile, planned accelerators could run on sustainable energy, a drastic departure from today’s machines.

At a press conference during the 2021 APS April Meeting, researchers will discuss how cutting-edge accelerators could collide with both energy consumption and our assumptions about the nature of matter.

A powerful new facility for nuclear physics

“The scientific advances of the EIC will help us all to understand where we come from and how the visible matter around us is composed from its elementary building blocks,” said Aschenauer.

The accelerator and detector will serve as a kind of camera, taking 3D images and movies of electrons colliding with polarized protons and ions. Like a CT scanner for atoms, the EIC will let scientists see how force-carrying gluon particles hold together quarks, the internal components of protons and neutrons. It will also offer insights into the spin of fundamental particles.

Aschenauer will give status updates from the first year of the EIC project–a collaboration between BNL and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility–and an overview of its experimental equipment.

Hunting for the chiral magnetic effect

The EIC will build on the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, which will soon produce major results of its own.

In summer 2021, data analysis will likely conclude on an experiment searching for decisive proof of the chiral magnetic effect. This proposed effect helps explain many fundamental features of the Standard Model and could unlock why our universe contains overwhelmingly more matter than antimatter, crucial to human existence.

Jinfeng Liao, a theoretical nuclear physicist at Indiana University Bloomington, will share key predictions about what the experiment might uncover.

“The signatures, as predicted by our theoretical study, show clear promise of unambiguously establishing the existence of chiral magnetic effect in the isobar collision experiment,” said Liao.

Liao and colleagues created a custom fluid-dynamics-based computational tool to simulate experimental collisions and any changes the chiral magnetic effect would cause.

They show that the new experiment has a better chance of detecting the effect than previous attempts, long plagued by weak signals and strong background contamination. The predictions were published in Physical Review Letters.

Probing profound subatomic questions requires a lot of power.

“Large particle accelerators use a shockingly large amount of energy,” said Georg Hoffstaetter, a professor at Cornell University.

He will share results from the Cornell-BNL Test Accelerator, or CBETA, the world’s first to accelerate a beam multiple times while powering itself by reusing beam energy. It further reduces electricity demands with superconducting and magnetic equipment.

The Energy Recovery Linacs technology that enables the test accelerator could lead to smaller particle accelerators with higher beam currents and reduced energy consumption.

“People may benefit from the industrial applications of Energy Recovery Linacs by using better computer chips, by being cured in radiation therapy centers that guide beams with permanent magnets, or by inhaling accelerator-produced medical isotopes,” said Hoffstaetter.

Building on the success of the test accelerator, its principal investigator and Brookhaven Senior Physicist Dejan Trbojevic will present designs for a new green energy collider. Particles speed along racetrack beam lines, formed from high-quality permanent magnets which require no use of electrical power.

“The ‘green accelerator’ shows a completely new way of accelerating particles with very tight control of their motion and with an extremely high energy range. It has never been done before,” said Trbojevic.

He will demonstrate how the EIC, as well as a similar accelerator under consideration at the Large Hadron Collider, could incorporate the energy-saving features.

FEATURED TALKS


The Electron-Ion Collider: A Collider to Unravel the Mysteries of Visible Matter–Its Experimental Equipment (X04.3)


11:57 a.m. – 12:33 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Elke-Caroline Aschenauer, [email protected]

Livestream: Access here

Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR21/Session/X04.3

Signatures of Chiral Magnetic Effect in the Collisions of Isobars (SP01.5)



2:00 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 19, 2021

Jinfeng Liao, [email protected]

Poster: Access here

Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR21/Session/SP01.50

The Cornell-BNL ERL Test Accelerator: Demonstration of the World’s First Multipass Superconducting Linear Accelerator With Energy Recovery (E15.3)


4:09 p.m. – 4:21 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 17, 2021

Colwyn Gulliford and Georg Hoffstaetter, [email protected]

Livestream: Access here

Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR21/Session/E15.3

Green Energy Future EIC Collider (Z07.1)


3:45 p.m. – 3:57 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Dejan Trbojevic, [email protected]

Livestream: Access here

Abstract: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR21/Session/Z07.1

PRESS CONFERENCE

Register for the press conference to be held on Zoom at 10:00 a.m. CDT, Sunday, April 18, 2021.

Speakers:

  • Elke-Caroline Aschenauer (BNL)
  • Jinfeng Liao (Indiana University Bloomington)
  • Georg Hoffstaetter (Cornell University)
  • Dejan Trbojevic (BNL)

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About 2021 APS April Meeting

Complimentary registration is available to journalists and public information officers for the express purpose of gathering and reporting news and information from the meeting. All prospective attendees must register to access the virtual meeting platform: https://my.aps.org/NC__Event?id=a0l5G00000CNAUJQA5

Staff reporters, freelance writers, and students are welcome. Those who have not previously attended APS meetings as press or do not directly receive the APS journals tip sheet may submit a request for APS press credentials by completing the form on this page: http://info.aps.org/press

Please visit the April Meeting Newsroom for a list of other press conferences and presentations featuring newsworthy research.

About APS

The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 55,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, Maryland (Headquarters), Ridge, New York, and Washington, DC.

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