Berkeley Lab

ATAP News, September 2015

Microfabricated Accelerators for Magnetized-Target Fusion
Do You Have The Recipe for Diversity?
Help Guide 5th Graders through Science Adventures
Quake Preparedness: Are You Ready For “The Big One”?
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Director’s Corner: ATAP After One Year

Leemans_Wim_Headshot_2014_150_captioned October is the first anniversary of the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division’s re-organization into ATAP. I am proud of ATAP’s technical and operational progress and the people who made it happen, and looking forward to a second year of discovery and invention.

Sidebar: ATAP By the Numbers

To assess our accomplishments and plans, the LBNL Directorate organized a review of our division. The late-August event brought in a distinguished visiting committee for two days of talks and tours. They regarded our science and technology accomplishments in a very positive light, and offered a variety of wise suggestions for improvement.

“The committee was impressed with the overall quality of the ATAP programs and their potential to make significant impacts on accelerator science and technology and near term applications that would benefit society as a whole.”

As we consider how best to implement their guidance, let’s take a look at the accomplishments of the past year and where we plan to go.

Our vision: transformational R&D as we invent, develop, and deploy accelerators and photon sources with which to explore and control matter and energy

Most of our work serves the DOE’s Office of Science. Its guidance and the reports of blue-ribbon committees like the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel help us make sure our efforts are aligned with agency priorities and the needs of the research community.

Major areas of endeavor include service to programs in Basic Energy Sciences (through our contributions to the LCLS-II project at SLAC and a proposed ALS Upgrade), HEP (magnets, modeling, and RF feedback toward luminosity and possible future energy upgrades of the LHC), and Nuclear Physics (such as magnet and ECR ion source work for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University).


“The core programs in ATAP are cutting edge, addressing critical issues in basic and applied science. “

We have also been seeking opportunities to develop new applications of our capabilities and serve new customers. An example is an ARPA-E project (the subject of an additional article below), involving ATAP and Cornell University, that will make thousands of tiny electrostatic “accelerators on a chip” for cheaper, more easily attained high-intensity ion acceleration. The goal is plasma heating for one of the exciting frontiers in fusion energy: magnetized-target fusion.

Meanwhile, with powerful lasers becoming such vital infrastructure for not only accelerators but many other sciences, a DOE accelerator stewardship effort joins us with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Michigan to develop and validate new concepts for ultrafast, high-average-power fiber lasers.

HiPIMS applying niobium coating
It takes expertise in great many aspects of physics and engineering to build a successful state-of-the-art particle accelerator. The breadth of ATAP’s research portfolio has often led to unexpected synergies. To take just one of many examples, the peak and average power of lasers such as k-BELLA will require mirror coatings with very high damage thresholds. Expertise in coating deposition from ATAP’s Plasma Applications Group, as with the dual High-Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering system shown here, could prove key to developing them. Coatings for the ALS-U vacuum chamber and the APEX electron gun are just a few other potential beneficiaries of our coating techniques.

The security and nuclear nonproliferation applications of accelerator technology have become increasingly prominent in our work; a notable current example is a project to develop a compact Thomson-scattering source of MeV gamma rays. Medical therapy is also among the exciting new frontiers; we have support from the DOE accelerator stewardship program to parlay our superconducting-magnet expertise into lighter, less expensive treatment delivery systems for ion beam therapy (a joint project with Varian Associates), for instance; and with Laboratory-Directed R&D money, we are exploring brachytherapy with an arthroscopic accelerator.

We are also helping reinvent LBNL’s machinery of discovery: with the proposed ALS Upgrade, for instance, as well as the k-BELLA and BELLA-i initiatives, which will extend our laser-plasma accelerator work to incorporate a kilojoule laser and the ability to accelerate ions, respectively. A generous grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation will help develop free-electron laser technology based on laser-plasma accelerators.

The re-invention applies to our organizational machinery as well. A key example is the recent cross-divisional coordination of LBNL magnet programs into the new Berkeley Center for Magnet Technology; we are looking forward to making the most of these new synergies in the coming year.

Animation of a simulation of BELLA laser plasma interaction High-performance computer modeling is a common thread throughout these efforts, and we will give it even more emphasis in the coming year. This is part of the continued reinvention of ourselves to serve today’s needs and be ready for tomorrow’s.
Computer simulation of the plasma wakefield as it evolves over the length of the 9 cm long channel in BELLA.

“We were impressed with the energy, enthusiasm and capabilities of the ATAP staff. The presence of a significant number of early and mid-career staff was also a positive feature that the committee observed.”

Developing the heavy-ion induction linac NDCX-II as a user facility for high-energy-density physics, and exploring the prospects for BELLA-i and k-BELLA as user facilities, are also exciting prospects for 2016 and the years to come.

Not all of the recent news is happy. Friend and colleague Michael S. Zisman passed away August 30 at age 71. Across a long and distinguished LBNL career, Mike’s drive, dedication, and comprehensive technical knowledge impressed all who worked with him, and his character left them feeling the loss all the more keenly. His memory lives on both personally to many of us and through his technical and program-management contributions to accelerator science. MSZisman

RFQ for PIP-II Ships

The LBNL-built radiofrequency quadrupole accelerator, or RFQ, for the PIP-II project has been shipped to Fermilab. This marks a major milestone for the successful LBNL-Fermilab collaboration on PIP-II (Proton Improvement Plan-II, formerly Project X).

LBNL has been collaborating with Fermilab on PIP-II since 2010, and among its major responsibilities was design and construction of a 162.5 MHz normal-conducting, continuous-beam (“CW”) RFQ. This RFQ accelerates 30 kV CW H- ions to 2.1 MeV, and will be used as the injector for the accelerator complex for the US LBNF (Long Baseline Neutrino Facility) project at Fermilab.

Radiofrequency quadrupole being loaded onto a truck

Friday, September 11: the RFQ is about to depart for Fermilab, where it will become part of PIP-II, centerpiece of their plans for high-energy and nuclear physics research. The end view of the RFQ shows the intricately shaped structures inside these linacs. LBNL has long been a center of excellence in the physics and engineering of these complex structures.


RFQs are a particular area of expertise in ATAP and the Engineering Division; together we have been designing and building RFQs for some 35 years, longer than any US institution. Recently we developed an RFQ of demanding specifications for the Institute of Modern Physics in Lanzhou, China. It achieved 10 milliamperes of proton current in CW operation at an energy of 2.1 MeV. The PIP-II RFQ is of similar design, leveraging this R&D investment.

The PIP-II RFQ team: left to right, LBNL engineers Andrew Lambert and Matt Hoff, lead engineer Steve Virostek; ATAP physicists
John Staples, Derun Li (principal investigator), and Tianhuan Luo; Fermilab engineer James Steimel, our technical contact there;
and LBNL engineer Allan DeMello.

October 2 Update: Upon its arrival, Fermilab made a video about the RFQ and its place in PIP-II.

Microfabricated Accelerators for Magnetized-Target Fusion

A team of ATAP and Cornell University has been awarded $2.2 million to develop a novel type of ion accelerator based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Supported by ARPA-E, the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, the program has the particular goal of scalable, low-cost drivers for magnetized-target fusion.

Conceptual fusion plasma image symbolizes the ALPHA Program
In magnetized-target fusion, a hybrid of magnetic- and inertial-confinement fusion that has been gaining increased attention in recent years, 1 to 10 megajoules of energy must be delivered to a magnetized plasma target. This energy can take the form of beams of heavy ions. Igniting or “driving” fusion targets with heavy-ion beams has been the subject of research in ATAP and elsewhere for decades. A fusion power plant, though, must be a success economically as well as physically, and achieving the required beam intensity at suitably low cost with conventional accelerator technology appears difficult.

In this project, a team led by Thomas Schenkel, head of ATAP’s Fusion Science and Ion Beam Technology Program, will collaborate closely with Professor Amit Lal from Cornell University to develop scalable ion-beam drivers based on MEMS technology. MEMS technology is compatible with massively parallel, low-cost batch fabrication techniques and is widely used to manufacture consumer electronics.

In the LBNL-Cornell approach, thousands of miniature emitters will be densely packed on silicon wafers. Ions will be injected and accelerated across gaps formed in stacks of wafers, leading to very high current densities from relatively inexpensive and easily fabricated structures. (Optical lithography with the required precision of 1 µm in critical dimensions is easily achieved; today’s computer chips have far smaller dimensions.)

The scheme gives a new twist to the MEQALAC (Multiple Electrostatic Quadrupole Array Linear Accelerator) concept that had first been conceived in the early 1980s for heavy ion fusion drivers. The key innovation here is the use of micro-fabricated arrays of accelerators consisting of electrostatic quadrupoles and radio-frequency (RF) electrodes.

MEMSarray_300x210y Prototype array of MEMS based electrostatic quadrupoles. The beamlet opening (black) is about 100 um in diameter.

We hope that these relatively inexpensive and easily fabricated structures, made with technology and techniques familiar from the semiconductor industry, will achieve very high current densities.

The use of numerous beamlets will circumvent the space-charge limitations of conventional accelerators by taking advantage of higher focusing fields achievable with MEMS devices.

The resulting intense ion beams will have tunable kinetic energy, eventually helping fusion scientists tailor the power deposition profiles to the needs of future magnetized plasma targets.

This project hopes to demonstrate the fusion-driver potential of the MEMS based MEQALAC concept and bring it to readiness for further technology maturation in cooperation with industry. It is supported by ARPA-E’s ALPHA program (Accelerating Low-cost Plasma Heating and Assembly). If successful, it could be a disruptive improvement to the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of fusion energy and may also have spin-off applications as well. Spin-offs can benefit from high current densities and compactness already at much lower beam power compared to fusion.

Do You Have The Recipe for Diversity?

Diversity Fesival 2014 Blanket Booth On October 28th the Lab will hold its 5th annual Diversity Cultural Festival on the Cafeteria patio. As in past years, the festival will feature booths from various organizations in and around the Lab, as well as performances from the Lab and beyond. Shown here are images from 2014.

This year’s theme is “A Taste of Berkeley Lab”. The cafeteria will feature food items from various countries. The Diversity & Inclusion Office is inviting employees to upload and share their recipes for inclusion in a “Taste of Berkeley Lab” cookbook. The cookbook will be available online. The deadline for submission is October 12th.

For the first time this year there will also be “Lab Voices” on the stage: In between performances, Lab employees will share personal stories and experiences on stage in story-slam fashion to highlight the diverse perspectives of our people.

Diversity Festival 2014 dancer_141x280y

Volunteer for a Mission to the Adventure Zone

The next training session is 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. October 7. Click here to register for the October 7 training session and become a BLAZES volunteer.
We took many paths to our careers in science and engineering, but chances are, we all realized in childhood that science was interesting, that learning how the world around us works is its own reward. Why not get back in touch with that feeling — and perhaps inspire it in others — as a BLAZES volunteer for the upcoming school year?

BLAZES (Berkeley Lab Adventure Zone in Elementary Science) brings local 5th grade classes (including all Berkeley public school 5th grade classes) to the Lab on a 3.5 hour field trip. Each year between 75 and 80 classes participate! They do some hands-on activities exploring the properties of matter, get a brief ALS tour, and enjoy a demonstration with liquid nitrogen. The program includes three hands-on stations where they explore dry ice, electrical conductivity, and thermal conductivity. One of the stations is staffed by the person teaching the program, the other two by volunteers like you.

What do the volunteers do?
Just before the kids start on the stations, the volunteers introduce themselves and say a couple of sentences about their own work at the Lab. (“Show and tell” is encouraged if you have something cool that’s portable and works in front of a class.) Then each volunteer runs that station while the kids rotate through spending 20 minutes at each station. After the activities, the kids have an opportunity to ask additional questions relating to what they saw and did, or the volunteer’s job.

BLAZES groups usually come Mondays through Thursdays from October through May. A volunteer’s duty typically starts around 10:30.

How to become a BLAZES volunteer
Many volunteers are scientists, but that is not a requirement. You don’t really need a PhD to understand 5th grade science, after all, and a BLAZES visit is an opportunity for the kids to learn that great science takes a lot of support people whose jobs are interesting and important. If you can convey the idea that science matters to the world and is fun to learn, that’s the main qualification.

The Lab’s Workforce Development and Education Office, which runs the program, holds regular training sessions for new volunteers. During the session you’ll actually get to perform each of the three activities and get some tips on the scientific points and how best to make them.

Click here to register for the October 7 training session and become a BLAZES volunteer. Can’t make it on that day? Please watch Today at Berkeley Lab for announcements of upcoming training sessions, and let the BLAZES program know that you would like to volunteer.

If you would like to know more about the program, please contact the Division’s coordinator for Outreach and Diversity, Ina Reichel (x4341,

Safety: The Bottom Line

Are you ready for “the big one”?

ECA_80x81 Berkeley Lab is very close to the Hayward Fault (it is between the Lab and campus, where it actually runs through Memorial Stadium). Seismologists estimate that there is more than a 60% chance of a damaging earthquake striking our region in the next 30 years.

To help us prepare, LBNL will be participating in the Great California Shake Out, a statewide earthquake drill on October 15. This is what to expect:

10:15 AM
You will hear an announcement over the building public address system asking you to imagine that the Lab is experiencing an earthquake. Stop what you are doing, drop to the floor, get under something sturdy or cover your head, and hold on. Everyone is expected to participate.

10:16 AM
You will hear an announcement that the shaking has stopped. Get up, quickly collect your vital personal belongings and a disaster “go bag” if you have one at hand, and exit the building using the nearest safe route. (Keep in mind that after a real earthquake you might not be allowed back into the building, so make sure you have your keys and purse/wallet with you.) Building Emergency Team members will help guide you to the emergency assembly area.

10:20 AM
Gather at your emergency assembly area and wait for instructions from your Building Emergency Team Leader. BET members will report any concerns to the Team Leader. There may be a group discussion about emergency preparedness.

10:30 AM
When your BET Leader is satisfied that all areas have evacuated, he or she will announce that you can re-enter the building.

Of course, real earthquakes are “self-announcing”. (Take it from those who have been through them: even a medium-sized quake leaves no doubt what is happening!) Don’t wait for a public address announcement. If you feel shaking, drop, cover and hold on. Then, when the shaking stops, evacuate.

Preparedness: The First Step Toward Survival

Please take a moment to view this new LBNL video about what to expect and how to prepare, and how to respond to a real earthquake.

Further information on earthquake and other emergency preparedness is available on our website.