The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB, pronounced F-RIB) is a new national user facility for nuclear science, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) and operated by Michigan State University (MSU). Supporting the mission of the Office of Nuclear Physics in DOE-SC, FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society, including in medicine, homeland security, and industry.
The heart of FRIB is a high-power superconducting linear accelerator that accelerates heavy ions and produces rare isotopes by in-beam fragmentation. FRIB will enable scientific research with fast, stopped and reaccelerated rare-isotope beams, supporting a community of currently more than 1,350 scientists from around the world.
FRIB has been baselined by DOE-SC at a total project cost of $730M with project completion in June 2022. The Project is managing to an early completion in December 2020.
Final design of the FRIB conventional facilities—the tunnel and support buildings—is complete and ready for civil construction to begin in early spring 2014. Pre-construction site preparation is complete and final design of the technical systems—accelerator and experimental equipment—is underway and planned for completion in 2014.
The establishment of FRIB will support the mission of the DOE-SC Office of Nuclear Physics to discover, explore, and understand all forms of nuclear matter. Particle accelerators, including the superconducting linear accelerator at the core of FRIB, enable the production and study of isotopes not commonly found in nature that have a host of basic and applied uses.
Each element has a specific number of protons, its atomic number. Most elements are stable and can be found on earth, like oxygen (8 protons), carbon (6 protons) or copper (20 protons). When neutrons are added to or removed from the stable nucleus of an element, it becomes more unstable and thus, rare. While we are not sure how many new isotopes remain to be discovered, it is pretty certain that a majority of isotopes has not been discovered. Many isotopes exist for only fractions of seconds before they decay into a more stable form. Rare isotopes are not normally found on earth. Instead, they are forged in some of the
How It Works
A beam of stable nuclei is accelerated to half the speed of light and impinges on a thin target material. When the beam impacts the target, the resulting collision creates a number of reaction products, most with fewer protons and neutrons than the stable beam. (On occasion a beam nucleus picks up a proton or neutron from the target material). Among those products are the sought-after rare isotope. This mixture continues to speed down the beamline, where a series of magnets separate the desired isotopes for study and send them to the experimental area where scientists use detectors to measure their unique properties or interaction with other nuclei to expand understanding of these rare isotopes.
A beam of stable nuclei is accelerated to half the speed of light and directed at a thin target material. When the beam impacts the target, the resulting collision creates a number of reaction products. Among those products are sought-after rare isotope. This mixture continues to speed down the beamline, where a series of magnets separate the desired isotopes for study.
Why It's Important
With FRIB we will, for the first time, have the capability to produce most of the same rare isotopes that are created in the thermonuclear explosions of supernovae, which then decay into the elements found on Earth. This will help us better understand the origins of the elements. The same isotopes are needed to develop a comprehensive model of atomic nuclei and how they interact.
Researchers using FRIB will be able to improve their understanding of how nuclear particles may be used to model, diagnose, and cure diseases. The improved nuclear models and precision data will allow optimization of the next generation of nuclear reactors and evaluation of techniques to destroy nuclear waste. They will probe advanced materials to examine the processes involved on the nano- and micro-scale, providing insights into how materials are affected by radiation and other forces. Modeling atomic nuclei and their interactions – a challenging problem in science – can also help lead to breakthroughs in security, the environment, high energy physics, nanoscience, and more.
Education of the next generation of scientists is a top priority. FRIB will build on the tradition to routinely involve undergraduate and graduate students in research. FRIB will expand those opportunities. MSU's nuclear physics graduate program is ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report's rankings of graduate schools for 2010. Each year about 10 percent of the nation's nuclear science PhD awardees are educated at MSU.