The John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science - Bridging Grant

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics


The John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science (JAI) is a Centre of Excellence in the UK for advanced and novel accelerator technology, providing expertise, research, development and training in accelerator techniques, and promoting
advanced accelerator applications in science and society.

The JAI, established in 2004, has become an internationally recognised centre for accelerator science. Its vital role in training the next generation of scientists has clearly boosted the UK's impact in this area, helping to address the problem of the worldwide shortage of accelerator scientists. JAI academics, researchers and students have together developed a strong research programme at the forefront of accelerator science, spanning national and international facilities and projects. The JAI has developed, and is actively enhancing, connections with industry and its outreach programme. We are working closely with industrial companies to bring scientific ideas closer to practical applications. Our inspiring and innovative outreach is increasing the desire of younger generations to aspire to technical and scientific careers. These three key elements of the JAI programme, training, accelerator research, and industrial connection and outreach, form the core of our future plans. With Imperial College joining this proposal, the research and training capabilities of the JAI will be significantly strengthened.

In the few years of its history, JAI personnel have already made significant contributions to not only many existing, facilities and experiments both in the UK and abroad, but also proposed projects (from the International Linear Collider (ILC) and Compact Linear Collider (CLIC) for CERN to a Particle Accelerator for Medical Applications (PAMELA), and projects currently being implemented (European Spallation Source, Large Hardron Collider upgrade, SuperB collider in Italy). The JAI has built up expertise in laser-accelerator interactions, design and operation of the brightest electron rings and light sources, machine-detector interface and final-focus systems, handling of proton and muon beams for medical and particlephysics applications, and excellence in advanced beam diagnostics, instrumentation and simulation. In many cases this expertise is unique in the world. The future JAI programme is built upon our expertise and core competences and will include projects of direct relevance to the national accelerator-science strategy, to national facilities such as Diamond and ISIS at Harwell and to the future of particle physics.

The JAI has now initiated work towards new research directions - in particular, we are working towards the creation of a suite of compact light sources, building on our laser-accelerator expertise and bringing us closer to industrial applications, with an aim of achieving commercial devices in the near future. The most challenging, but also the most promising, area is laser-plasma acceleration, and we will address this challenge by combining forces with the plasma physics groups at Oxford and Imperial College, and via developing collaborations with worldwide centres of expertise in this area.

The funding for the JAI in this project will underpin the core elements outlined above. This core staff provision will allow us to explore new opportunities - both in new directions and at the boundaries between synergistic projects - and the early development of new ideas so that dedicated funding can then be secured. This funding will also leverage future investment for both new and established projects, as has been already demonstrated, and ensure that the UK remains a key player in accelerator science and technology worldwide.

This research programme will continue raising the impact of accelerator science on UK's scientific and industrial capabilities and will help to solve the challenges of the 21st century through its applications to healthcare, energy, materials
and biological science.

Planned Impact

The John Adams Institute provides expertise, development and training in accelerator techniques and promotes advanced accelerator applications in science and society. The advanced techniques developed in JAI very often have applications in industry and society, including in healthcare, clean energy and communication technology.

In healthcare, promising new particle beam cancer therapies rely on the development of new, compact accelerators, typically for protons or carbon atoms. This requires the continuation of fundamental research into magnet design, for
example, and redirection of the particle beam. There is also potential impact in healthcare from the novel and control schemes being developed for accelerating and controlling beams of short-lived particles such as muons - via development of novel compact magnets and advanced focusing techniques.

The JAI already has projects in both these areas and seeks to build stronger collaborations with potential beneficiaries. Both society and industry would also benefit from a safe route for generating clean energy. Advances in the accelerator cavities developed for particle physics colliders have opened new opportunities for the creation of inherently safe, accelerator-driven, thorium- based nuclear reactors.

A very wide range of other fields in discovery science benefits from accelerator light sources, such as synchrotrons, with impacts in pharmaceutical, electronics, materials, engineering and medical sciences. The increasing power of such
techniques also drives developments in data analysis and information management. Beyond current light sources, studies of coherent radiation of electron beams have stimulated design of compact THz sources with potential applications in information technology, biology and medical sciences; non-destructive evaluation and other fields. A compact laser-plasma acceleration based X-ray source can significantly increase availability of advanced instruments for science, industry and medicine.

The technologies that underpin the design and operation of accelerator themselves drive developments in industry sectors normally unrelated to accelerators. For example, advances in electronics continue to be required, e.g. for ultrafast feedback and control, and developments in metrology are driven by the need for accurate alignment in future colliders. These developments may be initiated within academic research or through collaboration with industry, but are already resulting in new devices for entirely different markets.

The JAI has an international reputation for training the next generation of accelerator scientists, with wide-ranging skills, and each year provides a significant number of world-class PhDs to industry and national laboratories. This direct transfer of expertise will enable both new and existing accelerator technologies to be developed further and exploited more widely.

Our inspiring and innovative outreach is increasing the desire of younger generations to aspire to technical and scientific careers. By explaining the concepts and technologies behind well-known projects such as the Large Hadron Collider, we can show both the excitement and challenge of science and technology, as well as the many applications of accelerators in wider society.

The impact of research at the JAI on public, schools, industry and government, through 'cross-fertilisation' between academic research and industrial applications, will further enhance in the future as we develop stronger links with industry and the wider public.


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Bracco C (2016) AWAKE: A Proton-Driven Plasma Wakefield Acceleration Experiment at CERN in Nuclear and Particle Physics Proceedings

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Caldwell A (2016) Path to AWAKE: Evolution of the concept in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

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Cole J (2016) Tomography of human trabecular bone with a laser-wakefield driven x-ray source in Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion

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Cole JM (2018) High-resolution ┬ÁCT of a mouse embryo using a compact laser-driven X-ray betatron source. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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Dann S (2019) Laser wakefield acceleration with active feedback at 5 Hz in Physical Review Accelerators and Beams

Description Central Laser Facility Industry Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussed with industrial users, applications of plasma accelerators
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Talk to Imperial College PhysSoc 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Talked about novel plasma accelerators to undergraduate students, which many reported was the first time they had heard of the concept.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018