Next-generation electron-ion accelerator for nuclear physics facility receives critical approval

Photo credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

The CD-1 milestone marks the beginning of the project implementation phase for a next-generation nuclear physics facility that will examine the smallest building blocks of visible matter.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued Critical Decision 1 (CD-1) for the Electron-Ion Collider (EIC), a unique nuclear physics research facility located at the DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long. to be built island. Following the DOE’s approval of Mission Need (known as CD-0) in December 2019, this announcement marks the completion of the definition phase of the project and its conceptual design. Approval of CD-1 authorizes the start of the project implementation phase, starting with the preliminary draft.

“The successful completion of this important milestone recognizes the hard work of many under difficult circumstances. It also signals that the EIC project is ready to turn attention to creating a performance base to guide EIC construction, ”said Kathleen Hogan, DOE Acting Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “We are pleased that the joint EIC teams at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility are making steady progress given the importance of the EIC to the DOE’s mission and the future of the DOE nuclear physics program.”

The EIC is funded by the federal government, primarily through the DOE Office of Science. It will draw on expertise from the entire national laboratory complex of the DOE as well as from universities and research institutions worldwide. The total project cost is expected to be between $ 1.7 billion and $ 2.8 billion.

“We are excited to move into the next phase of executing plans for the Electron-Ion Collider at a state-of-the-art research facility that will open a new frontier in nuclear physics,” said Brookhaven Lab Director Doon Gibbs.

The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) in Newport News, Virginia is a key partner on the project and will continue to make significant contributions.

“Jefferson Lab is proud to continue its partnership with Brookhaven Lab as we work together to build this next generation research facility,” said Jefferson Lab Director Stuart Henderson. “At Jefferson Lab, we are committed to driving the realization of the EIC. This machine will not only enable a new era of scientific discovery, with its unprecedented range within matter, but will also complement and expand the precision research that continues in our own Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility. “

EIC scheme

Photo credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

The EIC will be a 2.4 mile circumference particle accelerator, the first of its kind in the world. It will direct beams of high-energy polarized electrons into collisions with polarized protons and atomic nuclei to create precise 3-D snapshots of the internal structures of these particles . Experiments at the EIC will help scientists unravel the secrets of nature’s most powerful force and explore how tiny particles called quarks and gluons make up the mass, spin and other properties of all visible matter.

The world’s leading science that enables an EIC and the technological innovations required to make it a reality have the potential to drive tomorrow’s technologies. The benefits will go beyond physics and advance health and medicine, national security, nuclear energy, radioisotope production and the industrial use of particle beams.

The State of New York was very committed to the project. Approximately $ 100 million from New York State funds will support the construction of new infrastructure at the Brookhaven Lab, including the buildings and roads essential to the EIC.

“New York State is proud to partner with the federal government and the Brookhaven Lab to build the world’s first polarized electron-ion accelerator and the first new accelerator built in the United States in decades here on Long Island,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President-elect & CEO Eric Gertler. “This project ensures Brookhaven Lab and New York State remain leaders in scientific discovery while creating thousands of jobs and generating billions of dollars in new economic activity.”

EIC design

The design for the EIC includes building a new electron storage ring and electron accelerator components that work seamlessly with the existing infrastructure that is currently providing beams for the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at the Brookhaven Lab. RHIC, a user facility of the DOE Office of Science, has served nuclear physicists since it was commissioned in 2000.

EIC physics program

The new electron ring will allow polarized electrons to interact with polarized protons and large nuclei to precisely examine the building blocks of these nuclear particles and take dynamic snapshots – something like a CT scanner for atoms. Scientists will use data from millions of collisions to study “strong nuclear force” – the most powerful force in nature – and answer other long-standing questions in physics, including where and how the proton gets its “spin” it gets its mass.

Widespread benefits

The establishment of the EIC will maintain US leadership in nuclear physics and accelerator science – areas critical to our technological, economic, and national security. The project will also offer educational and staff development opportunities to train the next generation of experts in these areas.

In addition, the advances in technology that are already being developed to make the EIC a reality – innovative accelerator and particle tracking components, and data management tools and techniques – could have far-reaching implications. This includes new approaches to cancer therapy, solving other “big data” challenges and improving accelerator facilities for testing batteries, catalysts and other energy-related materials.

The findings from research at the EIC are published in the open scientific research literature and are available to all partners, including commercial partners.

The collider accelerator infrastructure that powers the EIC in Brookhaven will also be available to researchers who use particle beams to create and conduct studies of medical isotopes and to study the effects of simulated space radiation to protect future astronauts.

EIC collaboration

The EIC will be an international body attracting expertise from around the world. The growing EIC User Group already includes 251 member institutions from 33 countries – with 88 US institutions from 27 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC

“The EIC project benefits enormously from diverse experiences in accelerator science, detector technology and theory at numerous institutions worldwide, which form a critical basis for a broad EIC science program and offer excellent educational opportunities for several generations of students and postdocs worldwide. “Said Bernd Surrow, Professor at Temple University and Chairman of the EIC Users Group.

Construction of the EIC is slated to begin in 2024 and the facility is slated to go into operation at the beginning of the next decade.

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