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The next generation of particle accelerator experts

Accelerator science is a dynamic research area, driven by recent developments in large-scale research infrastructures such as the upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Despite these initiatives, there are concerns about skills shortage delaying further advances.

Industrial Technologies

Lasers have enhanced the performance of particle accelerators, delivering the highest quality electron and ion beams and demonstrating unprecedented acceleration gradients. Accelerators are also widely used for medical applications; for example, to produce isotopes as biological markers and create charged-particle beams for cancer treatment. Minimising the size and cost of particle accelerators creates new applications. Although the benefits of accelerator science are undisputed, there is a lack of experts in Europe. This shortage was the focus of the LA3-NET (Lasers for applications at accelerators: a Marie Curie Initial Training Network) project. Together with OPAC (Optimization of particle accelerators: a Marie Curie Initial Training Network), they provided unprecedented expertise to more than 40 early stage researchers. The LA3-NET network established an EU-wide collaboration for training the next generation of researchers to meet the quickly growing industry that has a high demand for accelerator experts. Importantly, LA3-NET paved the way to continued and deepened cooperation between research centres, universities and industry partners from across Europe beyond the end of the project. The network demonstrated recruitment of remarkably competent researchers, strong industry involvement and outstanding communication and dissemination. LA3-NET resulted in the award of prizes to early stage researchers, and outcomes have been presented at numerous international conferences and published in high-impact peer-reviewed papers. Project activities were disseminated beyond scientific circles. Researchers reached out to schools to guide teachers and excite students about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). While focused on training the next generation of experts that will commission, operate and continuously optimise key research facilities and develop new applications of particle accelerators, LA3-NET built a lasting partnership of education and outreach. The outreach activities to increase the number of physics and engineering students entering this exciting field will continue well past the programme termination.

Keywords

Particle accelerator, LHC, charged-particle beams, LA3-NET, early stage researchers

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16 March 2020