US DOE funds compact particle accelerator development

28 January 2020

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a plan to provide USD10 million over three years to advance particle accelerator technology for medical, security, energy, and industrial applications, with a focus on the development of novel "compact" accelerator technologies for cancer treatment and other uses.

A 9 cm laser plasma accelerator module developed at the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Image: LBNL)

The awards are aimed specifically at helping transform sophisticated accelerator technology used primarily for scientific research into an effective tool of medicine and industry, the DOE said. The initiative includes a new topic focused on the development of novel compact accelerators which range from the size of a tabletop up to several metres, and may help make valuable accelerator technologies less expensive and more widely available.

"Particle accelerators were developed mainly for scientific research, but have come to be indispensable tools of medicine, industry, national security, and many others," Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said. "This research helps to ensure that both government and the private sector benefit from the very latest advances in accelerator technology."

Research funded under the Accelerator Stewardship programme within the DOE Office of Science has to date helped reduce the cost and improve the quality of cancer therapy, advance non-chemical methods of destroying pathogens and toxic chemicals, and enhance security operations at border checkpoints, DOE said. Such research is closely coordinated with multiple programme offices within DOE and with other federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation, "all of which have their own interest in various applications of accelerator technology", it said.

Applications for the new funding will be open to universities, DOE national laboratories, non-profit organisations, and private firms. Funding is to be awarded competitively, based on peer review, and is expected to be in the form of one- to three-year awards of USD75,000-USD1 million per year, beginning this fiscal year.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News