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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2018-10-20 09:05:25
    • Article ID: 702423

    Cryocooler Cools an Accelerator Cavity

    Researchers demonstrated cryogen-free operation of a superconducting radio-frequency cavity that might ease barriers to its use in societal applications.

    • Credit: Martin Murphy, Fermilab

      A superconducting radio-frequency (RF) accelerator cavity is mounted and connected to a cryocooler, cooling the cavity without the use of liquid helium. This new device could make it easier to produce high-average-power electron beams for industrial applications.

    The Science

    Particle accelerators are made of structures called cavities, which impart energy to the particle beam, kicking it forward. One type of cavity is the superconducting radio-frequency, or SRF, cavity. Usually made of niobium, SRF cavities require extreme cold to operate. A Fermilab team developed a new way of cooling SRF cavities without liquid helium. The new system is easier to operate and simpler to construct.

    The Impact

    Electron beams could help clean water and repair roads. The barrier is the need for ultra-cold liquid helium. For the first time, a team has cooled a superconducting accelerator cavity without liquid helium. Replacing liquid helium with plug-and-play devices called cryocoolers could make SRF technology available to industry. Energy-efficient SRF accelerators can provide high-average-power electron beams. The beams could strengthen materials, reconstruct asphalt pavement, treat wastewater, and more.

    Summary

    All SRF particle accelerators to-date use liquid helium to maintain the extremely cold temperatures necessary for sustaining superconductivity. Liquid-helium operation demands complex infrastructure: a liquefaction plant, distribution lines, gas recovery, purification systems, and cavity cryomodules that can withstand high pressure. There are also safety hazards associated with operation of the liquid helium. Although such an infrastructure is appropriate for large-scale research accelerators, it can be too complex and costly for industrial applications.

    For the first time, a team at Fermilab's Illinois Accelerator Research Center has cooled an accelerating cavity to cryogenic temperatures without the use of liquid helium. They achieved this by connecting a cavity to a commercially available cryocooler, using a Fermilab-patented technology.

    Connecting the cavity to the cryocooler was a significant challenge that required investigating various materials and designing custom components. The team produced niobium conduction rings and connected them to the cavity shell using electron-beam welding. They also developed niobium-aluminum joints that allowed heat to flow easily from the cavity to the cryocooler. To generate heat into the cavity, the team used a simple plug-and-play radio-frequency driver, as in laboratory accelerators.

    Electromagnetic gradients are generated within SRF cavities; stronger gradients impart more energy to the beam. This first-ever cryogen‑free operation produced a gradient of 0.5 MV/m on a single-cell, 650-MHz niobium cavity. Fermilab researchers plan to soon achieve gradients up to 10 MV/m by using higher capacity cryocoolers and capitalizing on other recent advances in cavity technology. The team is exploring the application of conduction cooling technology to higher frequencies, multicell cavities, and other radio-frequency structures.

    Funding

    The Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of High Energy Physics funded this research.

    Publications

    R.C. Dhuley, M.I. Geelhoed, and J.C.T. Thangaraj, “Thermal resistance of pressed contacts of aluminum and niobium at liquid helium temperatures.” Cryogenics 93, 86 (2018). [DOI: 10.1016/j.cryogenics.2018.06.003]

    R. Kephart, “Conduction cooling systems for linear accelerator cavities.” U.S. Patent 9642239 B2, May 2, 2017.

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    Summit Helps Predict Molecular Breakups

    Summit Helps Predict Molecular Breakups

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    Department of Energy awards $3.15 million to Argonne to support collaborations with industry

    Department of Energy awards $3.15 million to Argonne to support collaborations with industry

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $33 million in funding for 82 projects aimed at advancing commercialization of promising energy technologies and strengthening partnerships between DOE's National Laboratories and private-sector companies.

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    Three Fermilab scientists receive DOE Early Career Research Awards

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    Quest, PPPL's annual research magazine, reports breakthroughs and discoveries during the past year

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    Matthew Kunz, Princeton and PPPL astrophysicist, receives prestigious NSF dual-purpose award

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    CIO Amber Boehnlein Takes Computing up a Notch

    CIO Amber Boehnlein Takes Computing up a Notch

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    Oak Ridge National Laboratory Welcomes Six New Research Fellows to Innovation Crossroads

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    Oak Ridge National Laboratory welcomed six technology innovators to join the fourth cohort of Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast's only entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.


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    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Scientists designed and connected two different artificial cells to each other to produce molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

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    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

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    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

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    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

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    How an ion behaves when isolated within an analytical instrument can differ from how it behaves in the environment. Now, Xue-Bin Wang at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory devised a way to bring ions and molecules together in clusters to better discover their properties and predict their behavior.

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

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    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    This study is the first to confirm dust particles pre-dating the formation of our solar system. Further study of these materials will enable a deeper understanding of the processes that formed and have since altered them.

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Future fusion reactors will require materials that can withstand extreme operating conditions, including being bombarded by high-energy neutrons at high temperatures. Scientists recently irradiated titanium diboride (TiB2) in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) to better understand the effects of fusion neutrons on performance.

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    In breast cancer screening, an imaging technique based on nuclear medicine is currently being used as a successful secondary screening tool alongside mammography to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis. Now, a team is hoping to improve this imaging technique.

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Scientists can use genetic information to measure if microbes in the environment can perform specific ecological roles. Researchers recently analyzed the genomes of over 6,000 microbial species.


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