Accelerator and Beam Physics

NIU is home to one of the best university accelerator physics programs in the nation. The program benefits from the close proximity of major accelerator research facilities at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory. The faculty members associated with the program collaborate with these laboratories and with colleagues from around the world in high-priority accelerator projects and experiments. They also teach accelerator and beam physics courses at NIU.

  • Theory and experimental verification of fundamental charged-particle beam dynamics.
  • Accelerator and beam line design and analysis.
  • High-performance beam physics computations.
  • Beam instrumentation and diagnostics.
Faculty Research Topics Publications
Swapan Chattopadhyay
  • Nonlinear beam dynamics.
  • Microwave superconductivity.
  • Colliders/accelerators.
  • Free electron lasers.
  • Terahertz sources.
  • Quantum optics/electronics.
  • Metamaterials/photonic structures.
Bela Erdelyi
  • Beam physics.
  • Accelerator theory and design.
  • Nonlinear dynamics.
  • Applications of symplectic geometry in (and numerical methods for) Hamiltonian dynamics.
  • Medical physics and imaging.
  • High-performance computing.
Philippe Piot
  • High-brightness electron beams.
  • Advanced acceleration concepts.
  • Compact coherent radiation source.
Mike Syphers

Additional Members

Adjunct Professors
  • Vladimir Shiltsev, Fermilab.
  • Diktys Stratakis, Fermilab.
Research Scientists
  • Daniel Mihalcea.
Postdoctoral Fellows
  • Ben Freemire.
  • Nathan Froemming.

Accelerator Science

Among the largest and most expensive of all scientific instruments, particle accelerators have impacts in many areas of science and society.

Accelerator and Beam Physics Research Activities at NIU

The NIU accelerator and beam physics group focuses on diverse aspects of theoretical, computational and experimental particle beam physics:

  • 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.
  • Advanced developments in particle beam optics and transport, accelerator and collider design, and advanced acceleration concepts.
  • Development of coherent microwave radiation sources, beam-wave interaction dynamics in metamaterials, high-brightness electron beams and compact coherent radiation sources.
  • Applications of particle beam and accelerator systems for high-energy and nuclear experiments, basic energy science, medical use and industrial demands.

Laboratory Experiments

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).

  • Development of the Fermilab Accelerator Science and Technology (FAST) facility, including the IOTA ring, for advanced nonlinear beam dynamics experiments.
  • Formation of a research laboratory on the NIU campus with an electron gun for testing and commissioning new instrumentation.
  • Development of precision storage rings and unique beam lines.
    • High-statistical tests of fundamental symmetries and experimental verifications of the Standard Model of particle physics.
    • Examinations of future accelerator facilities for the U.S. and Europe (CERN).

Space-Charge Algorithm

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, we began intensive efforts to develop a new space-charge algorithm that preserves these hierarchies while still enabling efficient computations. The underlying methodology is multiresolution analysis, e.g., the application of wavelets.

Symplectic Dynamics

The study of Hamiltonian systems in general led to the development of two seemingly different branches of mathematics: the theory of dynamical systems and symplectic geometry. Both fields have undergone dramatic 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.

The NIU Department of Physics offers graduate-level courses and degree programs in accelerator and beam physics. Candidates for the degrees of Master of Science in physics and Doctor of Philosophy in physics with an accelerator and beam physics emphasis must meet the general requirements set forth by the Department of Physics for these degrees. They're expected to take accelerator/beam-related coursework as a major part of their electives.

Courses Offered

Elective courses relevant to accelerator and beam physics include:

  • PHYS 659 Special Problems (1-10 credits).
  • PHYS 673 Beam Physics I (3 credits).
  • PHYS 683 Beam Physics II (3 credits).
  • PHYS 790 Special Topics in Physics (1-6 credits).

Accelerator and beam physics students often attend the U.S. Particle Accelerator School (USPAS), which is held twice annually. USPAS offers many higher-level graduate physics courses in the discipline. NIU credit for participation in USPAS courses can be arranged through the Department of Physics with sufficient notice.

Ph.D. Program Graduates

  • Matthew Andorf, June 2018.
  • Aliaksei Halavanau, May 2018.
  • Anthony Gee, March 2018.
  • Sumana Abeyratne, October 2016.
  • Francois Lemery, June 2015.
  • SriHarsha Panuganti, June 2015.
  • Christopher Prokop, May 2014.
  • James Maloney, April 2013.
  • Timothy Maxwell, May 2012.
  • Edward Nissen, August 2011.
  • Marwan Rihaoui, August 2011.
  • Laura Bandura, August 2009.

M.S. Program Graduates

  • Jinlong Wang, March 2018.
  • Andrew Fiedler, April 2017.
  • Alexander Malyzhenkov, October 2016.
  • Andrew Green, June 2016.
  • Andrew Palm, April 2015.
  • Saroj Raj Rai, April 2015.
  • Ben Blomberg, May 2014.
  • Ivan Viti, August 2013.
  • Danairis Hernandez, May 2012.
  • Josh Ernst, August 2010.
  • Christopher Prokop, December 2009.
  • Kent Wong, August 2009.
  • Tim Maxwell, December 2007.
  • Shafaq Moten, August 2007.
  • Marwen Rihaoui, August 2007.
  • James Maloney, December 2006.
  • Greg Betzel, December 2005.
  • Dan Bollinger, May 2005.
  • Laura Bandura, August 2003.


Our group is equipped with a Beowulf cluster. It consists of 56 dual processor nodes connected through a 100 Mbit network. The operating system is Fedora Linux, and the installed software includes up-to-date Intel Fortran 90 and GNU C++/g77 compilers, PV-WAVE, ROOT, PAW analysis packages, LATEX and OpenOffice word processors.

CONDOR batch system and support for LAM/MPI application allows effective utilization of cluster resources:

Server: 1Gb RAM, 2x Athlon 2600+, shared 1.5Tb raid array.

Worker nodes: 1GB RAM/node, Amd Opteron 1800 (2x15 nodes), Amd Atlon 2400+ (2x24), 1800+ (2x16), shared disk space: 4.5Tb.


We have 21 licenses of the PV-WAVE software. You can use PV-WAVE for visualization and analysis of data. It has been used in many fields of science (mainly physics and engineering) and has a very good track record. It can be used on different platforms (Windows or Linux) and works in command-line or graphic environments.

ROOT: a free platform independent analysis tool developed at CERN. Suitable for processing large amounts of data.

LAM (Local Area Multicomputer) package: allows writing/running parallel programs on cluster.

CONDOR: an effective batch job management system.