Berkeley Lab

Director’s Awards for Lucas Brouwer, John Corlett

Lucas Brouwer, a research scientist in ATAP’s Superconducting Magnet Program, has been recognized with the 2022 Berkeley Lab Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement in the category of Early-Career Scientific Achievement.

Also honored was John Corlett, who retired recently as head of the Laboratory’s Project Management Office and was previously a program head and project leader in ATAP. Corlett won in the category of Organizational Impact.

The awards were announced October 19 and will be presented in a hybrid in-person and virtual ceremony 3:00-5:30 p.m. Pacific time Thursday, November 10.

Lucas Brouwer

Head shot of Lucas Brouwer

Lucas Brouwer

“For achievements in superconducting magnet science and applications, including seminal work in a new superconducting magnet geometry being applied to high-energy physics and cancer therapy, and for developing a key enabling technology for the 1K-TEM Project.”

Lucas Brouwer’s award citation unpacks to varied and far-reaching accomplishments in magnets for particle accelerators. He established the analysis tools and design process for the Canted Cosine-Theta (CCT) geometry for high-field particle-accelerator magnets, and has become a leader in their application in both high-energy physics and ion-beam cancer therapy. Meanwhile, Lucas’s work on a superconducting magnet for electron microscopy culminated in the fabrication and successful test of a prototype superconducting electron lens for the superconducting electron microscope under development within the 1K-TEM project. His development has the potential to have large impacts in many fields employing ultra-stable superconducting magnets, such as MRI/NMR, precision mass spectroscopy, and quantum information science.

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Lucas’s thesis work laid out the advantages of CCT magnets, a geometry which, at that time, was not being seriously considered for high field magnets. He has since led the rapid development of the technology for high energy physics and medical therapy applications. Lucas led the design of a series of CCT dipole magnets at LBNL, which resulted in the formation of CCT research programs both within the US and internationally. Most notably, the DOE-HEP US Magnet Development Program (US-MDP) now includes several CCT programs, as do both CERN and the Paul Scherrer Institute. Recently, CERN selected a CCT design for the orbit correctors required for the High-Luminosity Upgrade of the LHC (which will be the first CCT magnets installed in an operating collider).

It took less than 10 years from his seminal doctoral thesis to fabrication of superconducting CCT magnets for an operating accelerator. The concept’s rapid maturation —arguably unique in the history of accelerator magnets—is in part driven by the strong conceptual underpinnings that Lucas developed.

In particular, his comprehensive mathematical treatment of both straight and curved CCT magnets laid the foundation for the concept’s development at many laboratories around the world, and serves as a benchmark for others working on the technology. The CCT concept is unique in magnet designs in the sense that it is intrinsically “3D” and hence requires a more sophisticated approach to its analysis, both in terms of electromagnetics and in terms of its mechanical response and behavior when energized. Magnets such as the CCT are designed to transport beams of charged particles, effectively serving as optics. Brouwer led the development of techniques that combine the magnetic design and analysis with the optics analysis to optimize beam transport characteristics for various applications.

Building upon these achievements, Lucas also has a significant record of accomplishments in superconducting magnets for ion beam cancer therapy. The need for changes in beam energy during patient treatment has been one of the primary technical obstacles to taking advantage of the strength of superconducting magnets in this field, because it is harder to change magnetic field when using superconducting magnets. Lucas co-invented the Alternating Gradient Canted-Cosine-Theta (AG-CCT) design, patented by Berkeley Lab, which achieved a momentum acceptance (ability to handle different energies without changing magnetic field) of ~30%, compared to the 3% of previous approaches.

Recently, Lucas conceived of a new superconducting magnet layout with an even larger momentum acceptance, allowing for transporting the full range of proton energy used for these treatments (70-230 million electron-volts) without field change in the superconducting magnets. This is a breakthrough in technology for proton therapy, and has far-reaching implications for other accelerators that benefit from large momentum acceptance. Over the past year, as a part of a DOE HEP Stewardship project, Lucas led the effort to design the first High-Temperature Superconductor, fixed-field magnet for proton therapy, a significant step towards demonstrating the concept.

Proton therapy is a rapidly growing treatment modality for a variety of cancers, and already represents a ~$0.5B market worldwide, with rapid growth anticipated in the years ahead. Impressively, Lucas contributes critically on all aspects of the CCT concept, from magnet and optics design to the fabrication and testing of prototypes—all while collaborating with and leading teams of scientists, engineers, and technical staff from multiple international organizations.

Another kind of accelerator: the electron microscope

Over the last year, Lucas’s work on a superconducting magnet for electron microscopy culminated in the fabrication and successful test of a prototype superconducting electron lens. This significant achievement demonstrates a key technology for the superconducting electron microscope under development within the 1K-TEM project, whose goal is a highly stabilized transmission electron microscope operating at temperatures around 1 kelvin—near absolute zero. As part of this effort, Lucas developed a new method for active stabilization of superconducting magnets operating in persistent current mode (provisional patent filed), and demonstrated its effectiveness by stabilizing the field in the electron lens. This method shows development potential for stabilizing fields at the parts-per-billion level, which has the potential to have large impacts in many fields employing ultra-stable superconducting magnets, such as MRI/NMR, precision mass spectroscopy, and quantum information science.

John Corlett

John Corlett examines a scientific apparatus called an undulator

Corlett examines the actuating mechanism of an undulator (a magnetic array that makes the electron beam in a free-electron laser emit photons) for LCLS-II. (Credit: Marilyn Sargent/Berkeley Lab)

Citation: “For his deft management and oversight of the Lab’s growing project portfolio, and for his sustained contributions to the Lab’s project management and delivery capability, and in particular for his successful stewardship of high-profile scientific projects.”

John came to Berkeley Lab in December 1991 after several years at Daresbury Laboratory—an accelerator lab in the UK—and three years in the private sector. His expertise in radiofrequency techniques was a good match for the design and construction of the Advanced Light Source storage ring and commissioning phase of the booster, and his original intent was to stay two years for that purpose.

This intention, in hindsight, stood little chance against the exciting things that were going on in the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division, as ATAP was then known. Corlett worked in the Center for Beam Physics, which had just been organized by Swapan Chattopadhyay, based on the Exploratory Studies Group and chartered as a central resource for the Division where theory and experiment (including a thriving group specializing in beam electrodynamics) could come together to incubate ideas. In CBP, Corlett was part of a cohort of future leaders gathered together at an exciting time for accelerator physics.

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As the ALS was commissioned, PEP-II, the energy-asymmetric B-meson factory at SLAC, was getting underway. Berkeley Lab had principal responsibility for the technically challenging low-energy ring of the B factory. The experience of the ALS and PEP-II led to work on damping rings for the SLAC-led proposal for a Next Linear Collider and, later, its technically rather different successor the International Linear Collider. Neither of those efforts came to fruition (though ILC work continue to this day), but in a running theme of Corlett’s career, every accelerator, realized or not, is a learning experience that informs and improves future designs. One spinoff of these efforts was the development of accelerator technologies that underlie the free-electron laser facilities of today.

Corlett was by then expanding his skillset into technical management, serving for several years as head of the Center for Beam Physics under Bill Barletta and then as Deputy Director of the Division for Steve Gourlay.

John Corlett standing at whiteboard with diagrams of RF cavities

Corlett in 2006, heady times for free electron lasers. (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab)

A series of Berkeley Lab proposals for FEL facilities—LUX and then the Next-Generation Light Source—did not progress to funded projects, but yet another SLAC collaboration ensued: the multi-institutional Linac Coherent Light Source-II project. Several institutions contributed their expertise to this project, which is nearing completion.

These are just a few examples of how, over the course of his career at the Lab, John mastered the art of collaboration with other scientific institutions. Combining this with his experience of project leadership, as well as the research and user community consensus building that leads to Department of Energy program development, he embarked upon a new phase of his career as a project-management professional. Moving from ATAP to the Laboratory Directorate, he served as deputy to Kem Robinson, head of the Project Management Office, and led the office after Robinson’s retirement.

His stewardship of the Project Management Office has further developed and strengthened this critical Lab function. In addition to managing the PMO team, John shepherded and assisted a range of complex and critically important projects. including CMB-S4, ALS-U, ESnet 6, and BioEPIC. For CMB-S4, John served as Interim Project Director during a key initial period for the project. He was a critical part of the effort to develop and hone the Lab’s project management capabilities, including two Project Management Advisory Boards (PMABs), which provided assurance and assistance to major mission-critical science and infrastructure projects. Last year, John and his team hired two deputies: Emil Nassar for Science and Engineering projects and Piper Kujac for Construction and Infrastructure projects.

This story incorporates elements of a Project Management Office-focused appreciation of Corlett’s career by Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell, Deputy Director for Research and Chief Research Officer Carol Burns, and Deputy Director for Operations Michael Brandt.