Scientific Highlights from the Department
Large Research Facilities (GFA)
We have produced hard x-ray free-electron laser (FEL) radiation with unprecedented large bandwidth tunable up to 2%. The experiments have been carried out at SwissFEL, the x-ray FEL facility at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. The bandwidth is enhanced by maximizing the energy chirp of the electron beam, which is accomplished by optimizing the compression setup. We demonstrate continuous tunability of the bandwidth with a simple method only requiring a quadrupole magnet. The generation of such broadband FEL pulses will improve the efficiency of many techniques such as x-ray crystallography and spectroscopy, opening the door to significant progress in photon science. It has already been demonstrated that the broadband pulses of SwissFEL are beneficial to enhance the performance of crystallography, and further SwissFEL users plan to exploit this large bandwidth radiation to improve the efficiency of their measurement techniques.
The emittance is a fundamental parameter of particle distributions accounting for the average spread of the particles’ positions and momenta. We have generated and characterized intense ultralow-emittance electron beams, setting new standards for electron linear accelerators. The measurements have been carried out at the SwissFEL accelerator of PSI. SwissFEL is one of the few X-ray free-electron lasers (FELs) worldwide, which are cutting-edge research instruments to investigate matter with resolutions at the level of atomic processes.
The IEEE Nuclear Plasma Science Society has recently awarded Dr. Paolo Craievich, leader of the group «RF-system 2» in GFA, with the Particle Accelerator Science Technology award for his exceptional contributions to accelerator science and technology. https://www.frib.msu.edu/events/2019/napac19/awards.html
We have produced ultra-short X-ray FEL pulses at SwissFEL by strongly compressing low-charge electron beams. Single-shot spectral measurements with only a single mode (see the figure below) indicate a pulse duration well below one femtosecond (detailed analysis on the exact pulse duration is ongoing).
X-band (12 GHz) radio-frequency (RF) accelerating structures are under consideration for future free electron lasers, medical linacs and linear colliders. Two such structures, built by PSI in the framework of a CERN/PSI collaboration, are currently being tested at high power at CERN.
A team of GFA and CPT physicists has worked out a novel achromatic beam optics concept for a proton therapy gantry. The article on the concept in the journal Zeitschrift für Medizinische Physik has been awarded a prize for the best publication in 2016. The jury states: „The paper of Alexander Gerbershagen et al. entitled „A novel beam optics concept in a particle therapy gantry utilizing the advantages of superconducting magnets” describes a new concept of a first order design of the beam optics of a superconducting proton therapy gantry beam. The jury was impressed by the well-structured experimental work with clear improvement of large momentum acceptance in the gantry which opens the possibility of implementation new and faster dose application techniques in proton therapy.”
Radio-frequency structures at X-band frequencies (~ 12 GHZ) are being considered for applications in compact Free Electron Lasers, medical linacs, a future linear collider (CLIC project) and as a diagnostic for measuring ultra-short (femtosecond) electron pulses in FELs. A first prototype of such a structure has been built at PSI employing the realization procedures that have been developed for the C-Band (6 GHz) structures of the SwissFEL linac.
On Thursday 08/09/2016, the first C-band module boosted an electron beam from 150MeV to 390 MeV. This is the first beam acceleration test of a C-band module in PSI and is an important milestone for the project, since the main accelerator consists of 26 C-band modules of the same kind.
The 21st conference in this series takes place from September 12 to 16, 2016 at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. The cyclotron is a simple and efficient particle accelerator and its invention for the purpose of performing fundamental research dates back to 1929. Ernest Lawrence received the Nobel Prize for his idea in 1939. Today cyclotrons are used in a broad range of applications from large and complex facilities for basic research to highly optimized and cost effective solutions for industrial and medical applications. The series of cyclotron conferences provides a forum for the world leading experts to meet and to discuss technological and physics advancements in the field.