Accelerator physicists take the long view at EUCARD'13

In accelerator physics, it can pay to take the long view.

In a workshop today at CERN entitled Visions for the Future of Particle Accelerators, speakers at the EuCARD'13 conference discussed challenges for the next 50 years of research and development in accelerator physics.

Composed of 37 European universities, institutes and laboratories, EuCARD was founded in response to a call from the European Strategy for Particle Physics. The project aims to upgrade the large European research accelerators through R&D on innovative concepts and techniques.

Today four speakers addressed the needs for accelerators for the next 50 years, each focusing on different areas of physics.

Boris Sharkov of the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany, spoke of the need to push technological boundaries for the future of nuclear physics. He stressed the need for superconducting radiofrequency accelerators to produce high-intensity particle beams, and pointed to advancing technology to provide the necessary environment for increased beam intensities.

Next, Alain Blondel of the University of Geneva in Switzerland spoke about accelerator needs in high-energy physics. He suggested that the next big discoveries of new physics would come from the study of neutrinos, and, as such, researchers need to decide on the most efficient machine to study the mysterious particles.

Neutron physicist Colin Carlile focused on the planned European Spallation Source (ESS), a neutron-physics laboratory that is to begin operation in Lund, Sweden, in 2025. Pointing to the wide range of applications for neutrons in science, Carlile called the particles "the Swiss Army Knife of analytic techniques." The ESS is planned to run until 2065.

Finally, Ken Peach of the University of Oxford ended the afternoon session with a long-term view of accelerator needs for medical and industrial applications. He stressed the need for medical accelerators to be small and cheap, yet safe and easy to use. He finished his talk with the intriguing suggestion that – with the right research – accelerators might someday be small enough to fit on a chip.

The EUCARD'13 meeting continues at CERN until Friday 14 June.