Accelerator Science and Engineering

Particle accelerators are used in discovery science, medicine, and high-tech industry. Accelerators are the workhorses of nuclear physics research—the ones with the muscle to smash atoms so the aftermath can be studied. Accelerators can be engineered to come in all sizes—from a tabletop to a small city.

At the heart of FRIB is a high-power superconducting linear accelerator. It has been demonstrated to accelerate ion beams to more than half the speed of light to strike a target, creating rare isotopes. FRIB is poised to be the world’s most powerful rare isotope beam facility. It provides unprecedented opportunities to study the vast unexplored potential of more than 1,000 new rare isotopes never before produced on Earth—more than double what is currently possible.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is a rapidly developing field focused on computational technologies that can be trained, with data, to augment or automate human skill. Over the last few decades, AI has become increasingly prominent in all sectors of everyday life. This is largely due to the adoption of statistical and probabilistic methods, the availability of large amounts of data, and increased computer processing power. Because of their complexity, uncertainty, and time variation, it is challenging to tune heavy-ion accelerators between different experimental setups and optimize their performance. It requires continuous intervention from experienced operators. In an effort to overcome tuning challenges, the FRIB team has begun to utilize AI and ML methods.

Leveraging FRIB to train the next-generation workforce in high-demand accelerator science and engineering fields is a priority. FRIB partners with MSU academic programs to offer unique opportunities:

  • MSU Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program: The ASET program offers master’s and PhD graduate students in physics and astronomy and engineering an exciting training opportunity in accelerator science and engineering. Partnering academic programs at MSU include the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the College of Engineering.
  • MSU Cryogenic Initiative: The MSU Cryogenic Initiative is a collaboration between FRIB and the MSU College of Engineering. It combines classroom education with training on cutting-edge cryogenics, accelerator, and superconducting radio frequency sciences and technology at FRIB.
  • Master’s degree in accelerator science and engineering: A new master’s degree program in accelerator science and engineering through the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy will be available starting fall 2022.