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Innovation Fostering in Accelerator Science and Technology

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - I.FAST (Innovation Fostering in Accelerator Science and Technology)

Reporting period: 2021-05-01 to 2022-10-31

Particle accelerators are a key asset of the European Research Area. A central element of many Research Infrastructures (RI’s) devoted to fundamental or applied science, they have a wide range of applications outside of science, in medicine, industry, and environment.
I.FAST aims at enhancing innovation in and from accelerator-based RI’s by developing a range of technologies common to multiple accelerator platforms, and by defining strategic roadmaps for future developments. I.FAST focuses its technological R&D on long-term sustainability of accelerator-based research, with the goal of developing more performant and affordable technologies, reducing power consumption and environmental impact. By involving industry as a co-innovation partner, I.FAST will generate an innovation ecosystem around the accelerator-based RI’s that will sustain the long-term evolution of accelerator technologies in Europe.
Two strategic innovation initiatives have been launched. A Challenge Based Innovation event has gathered for 10 days 24 students with different backgrounds. Organised in teams, they have analysed options to apply accelerator technologies for the environment, coming out with four innovative proposals that were ranked by a jury. A project for stopping eutrophication in lakes using an electron beam was the winner of the contest.
Another initiative aimed at seed-funding innovative technologies that will contribute to improving sustainability of accelerator technology. A committee set-up to analyse and rank the proposals selected 8 projects to develop technologies ranging from new efficient power sources to innovative superconducting treatments, to new cost-efficient approaches for particle production and laser-based acceleration.
Work has started on the analysis of innovative accelerator concepts. The promising muon collider option for frontier particle physics colliders has been analysed and the I.FAST work coordinated with other initiatives in Europe and worldwide. Brainstorming and strategy Workshops on concepts for frontier accelerators have attracted a wide audience producing new ideas, among others on extreme storage rings. Alternatives for innovative colliders based on lasers and plasmas have been analysed, and specific hardware developments were carried out, to manufacture and characterize new nozzle designs and to test the first nozzles for laser-plasma acceleration experiments.
Improving beam quality in synchrotron light sources is a priority for future science. I.FAST started the development of a new generation of longitudinally variable dipoles, completing their magnetic design, and engaged in the construction of two innovative electron guns, producing a model prototype together with technical drawings and thermo-mechanical simulations.
A development focused on compact superconducting magnets to be used in accelerators for treatment of cancer has produced its first results. The conceptual design study of a combined function CCT-type magnet and the characterization of the first length of superconductor for low losses have been successfully carried out.
Related with superconductivity was the development of innovative coatings to improve performance and reduce cost and energy consumption of accelerating cavities. Efforts were focused on the development of seamless spinning technology for the fabrication of elliptical copper cavities, to be used for experimental coatings, and on the realisation of four facilities for superconducting film deposition. A gas chamber for laser treatment of coated cavity inner surface was designed and constructed.
A technology explored in detail was Additive Manufacturing (AM), where opportunities for accelerators were identified in the production of lower cost and higher performance copper-made linear accelerating structures and niobium-made superconducting cavities. For the first time, a section of Radio Frequency Quadrupole (RFQ) was successfully produced in AM, making this complex technology more accessible not only for scientific laboratories but as well in medical and industrial environments. Additionally, several AM-made samples of copper and niobium cavities were successfully produced.
A Work Package specifically devoted to developing sustainable technologies has produced the preliminary design of a high-efficiency klystron intended to reduce power consumption for the LHC at CERN, based on the retrofit of the presently installed LHC klystrons. Specifications of a first Permanent Magnet based magnet prototype were produced and a magnetic and mechanical design was developed.
In the field of societal applications, the I.FAST teams concentrated on comparing different types of accelerators for sludge treatment and on reviewing industrial electron beam accelerator technologies to finally choose a high-voltage DC accelerator with maximum available energy and optimized thickness of treated sludge for an advanced electron plant for biohazard treatment.
Options for optimising and sharing the European accelerator technology infrastructure were analysed in a Work Package that has identified the key technology platforms to be maintained over the long term and possibly upgraded, and the rules, procedures, and contracts for industry partners to access their services. As an example of R&D at a technological platform, the development of a new generation of solid-state radio frequency amplifiers has been started with production of the first prototypes.
New accelerator concepts like plasma accelerators or muon colliders could completely transform the field of particle accelerators, allowing the construction of accelerators at lower cost and footprint than present technologies strongly impacting particle physics and other fields of science. Bringing up these technologies will require more years and larger resources than those available in a European project, but I.FAST is making its part in promoting and directing the research in this field and in developing critical components like the nozzles for plasma acceleration.
Superconductivity is a key technology for building accelerators at lower cost and lower power consumption. The I.FAST development of innovative superconducting coatings is well beyond state of the art; in this initial phase preparation was made for testing and comparing solutions in the next periods. The development of superconducting magnets for small synchrotrons may drastically reduce the cost of accelerators for carbon ion therapy, making this sophisticated cancer treatment available to a larger fraction of the population.
Use of high-efficiency power sources and permanent magnets are strategic directions to reduce the electricity consumption of present and future particle accelerators. The I.FAST developments have the potential to make accelerator-based science more sustainable in a world were energy is becoming a precious resource.
The application to accelerators of 3D printing technologies, so far slowed by the need to use high-purity metals, may drastically reduce production times and cost for small accelerators improving at the same time their performance. The prototypes produced by I.FAST will have an impact well beyond science since small accelerators are commonly used in medicine and industry. This innovative technology will make accelerator technologies more accessible, to provide sophisticated medical treatments and improve industrial testing and production.
The Radio Frequency Quadrupole copper module made for the first time with additive manufacturing by