The National Science Foundation announced Monday that it will gift a $23 million grant to fund a Science and Technology Center, led by Prof. Ritchie Patterson, physics, director of the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-Based Sciences and Education.
The center, which will be called the Center for Bright Beams, has a two-fold research goal. The first is to reduce the cost of key accelerator technologies, which are used to produce, accelerate, and finally store or transfer particles, according to Patterson.
“The advances can affect all sorts of accelerators, from the really big ones that are used as particle colliders … to the electron microscope,” Patterson said.
The center also aims to also to increase the intensity of charged particle beams. Patterson says he hopes to “increase the brightness of the beam by a factor of 100, [which will] get particles in a very tight bunch and focus them better.”
“There’s the potential to make a better battery, a more secure airplane wing, develop new drugs,” Patterson said. “Every time accelerators or any scientific tool becomes more powerful, what it does is open up whole new opportunites.”
Thirteen universities and laboratories — including Cornell — in addition to industrial partners will be collaborating to conduct this research. Patterson said that it is “very important that we be a tight knit team, we can’t have boundaries.”
When she began the grant proposal process over two years ago, Patterson said she quickly realized that many of the questions in accelerator physics require an interdisciplinary approach.
“[The challenge] has led to a lot of new partnerships [and] thinking in a very new way about important questions,” she said.
Although the grant was not awarded until recently, Patterson and her colleagues have already started the research process.
“[The research] is already ramping up,” she said. “Already people are presenting results to each other.”