Among the largest and most expensive of all scientific instruments, particle accelerators have impacts in many fields of science and society. The theory behind their operation, developments of their technical design, and the understanding of their performance require a host of tools and methods ranging from applied physics and engineering to pure mathematics. For more information on this rapidly growing discipline, please visit:
The research program of the NIU Accelerator and Beam Physics group has diverse aspects in theoretical, computational and experimental particle beam physics. The development of cross-disciplinary techniques of nonlinear dynamics and their application to charged-particle beams, including applications of symplectic geometry in - and numerical methods for - Hamiltonian dynamics leading to experimental verification has been a major thrust of the program. Advanced developments in particle beam optics and transport, accelerator and collider design and advanced acceleration concepts has been another strong area of research. Faculty members are also involved in the development of coherent microwave radiation sources, beam-wave interaction dynamcs in metamaterials, high-brightness elecron beams and compact coherent radiation sources. Addidtionally, applications of particle beam and accelerator systems for high-energy and nuclear experiments, basic energy science, for medical use and for industrial demands are continuously promoted. Current research activities of the Accelerator and Beam Physics faculty members can be found under Participants.
When founded, the group's research included laboratory experiments involving novel beam diagnostics that were performed at the Fermilab/NICADD Photoinjector Laboratory (FNPL). Collaborations with the University of Maryland in planning experiments on the fundamental dynamics of space charge in beams were performed at the University of Maryland Electron Ring (UMER). Currently, members of the research group are involved in the development of the Fermilab Accelerator Science and Technology (FAST) Facility, including the IOTA ring, to be used for advanced nonlinear beam dynamics experiments. In addition, an in-house research laboratory presently is being formed on the NIU campus, one that will include an electron gun for testing and commissioning new instrumentation. The group is also involved with the development of precision storage rings and unique beam lines for use in high-statistical tests of fundamental symmetries and experimental verifications of the Standard Model of particle physics, as well as in examinations of future accelerator facilities for the U.S. and Europe (CERN).
Research at NIU has revealed that the hierarchies of temporal and spatial scales are critically important drivers of the evolution of beams with space charge -- details do matter. Consequently, intensive efforts to develop a new space-charge algorithm that faithfully preserves these hierarchies while still enabling efficient computations was begun. The underlying methodology is multiresolution analysis, e.g., the application of wavelets.
The study of Hamiltonian systems in general led to the development of seemingly two different branches of mathematics: the theory of dynamical systems and symplectic geometry. Both fields have undergone dramatic recent development and it is becoming clear that there is a common core which could lead to a new field called "symplectic dynamics". One of the best test beds of this new field is the accelerator (or particle beams in general) and this connection is being investigated at NIU.