In a ceremony held Friday, March 15, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory officially broke ground on a major new particle accelerator project that will power cutting-edge physics experiments for many decades to come.
The new 700-foot-long linear accelerator, part of the laboratory’s Proton Improvement Plan II (PIP-II), will be the first accelerator project built in the United States with significant contributions from international partners. When complete, the new machine will become the heart of the laboratory’s accelerator complex, vastly improving what is already the world’s most powerful particle beam for neutrino experiments and providing for the long-term future of Fermilab’s diverse research program.
“This is a very exciting day for the entire international PIP-II team,” said Lia Merminga, Fermilab PIP-II project director. “We are proud to begin construction of a highly capable, state-of-the-art superconducting radio-frequency accelerator that will serve particle physics for decades to come. Our international partners are essential to the success of PIP-II, and we look forward to engaging in a mutually rewarding adventure.”
The new PIP-II accelerator will make use of the latest superconducting technology, a key research area for Fermilab. Its flexible design will enable it to work as a new first stage for Fermilab’s chain of accelerators, powering both the laboratory’s flagship project – the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), hosted by Fermilab – and its extensive suite of on-site particle physics experiments, including searches for new particles and new forces in our universe.
“The PIP-II accelerator project will fuel discovery at Fermilab for decades to come, facilitating new innovations and new insights into our universe,” said Paul Dabbar, Under Secretary for Science at the DOE. “I’m excited for the further cooperation between America’s premier particle physics and accelerator laboratory and its international partners, and the resulting better understanding of the universe.”
DUNE is under construction now, and will be the most advanced experiment in the world studying ghostly, invisible particles called neutrinos. These particles may hold the key to cosmic mysteries that have baffled scientists for decades. The DUNE collaboration brings together more than 1,000 scientists from over 180 institutions in more than 30 countries, all with a single goal: to better understand these elusive particles and what they can tell us about the universe.
The PIP-II accelerator will enable the beam that will send trillions of neutrino particles 800 miles (1300 km) through the earth to the four-story-high DUNE detector, to be built a mile beneath the surface at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota. With the improved particle beam enabled by PIP-II, scientists will use the DUNE detector to capture the most vivid 3-D images of neutrino interactions ever seen.
PIP-II is itself a groundbreaking scientific instrument, and its construction is pioneering a new paradigm for accelerator projects supported by the U.S. DOE. The accelerator would not be possible without the contributions and world-leading expertise of partners in France, India, Italy and the UK. Scientists in each country are building components of the accelerator, to be assembled at Fermilab. This will be the first accelerator project in the U.S. completed using this approach.
“In science, like in other fields, international cooperation is crucial for lasting mutual success, innovation and progress,” said Guillame Lacroix, Consul General of France. “France takes pride in being a leading partner of the PIP-II accelerator project, based on decades of cooperation with Fermilab. French institutions look forward to sharing skills and expertise in super-conducting radio-frequency technology.”
With PIP-II at the center of the laboratory’s accelerator complex, Fermilab will remain at the forefront of particle physics research and accelerator science for the foreseeable future.
Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the PIP-II accelerator was attended by dignitaries from around the globe. Speakers included Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Sen. Dick Durbin (IL), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL), Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Rep. Bill Foster (IL-11), Rep. Robin Kelly (IL-2), Rep. Sean Casten (IL-6), DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar, University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer and national and international partners in the project.
Fermilab is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research. A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, Fermilab is located near Chicago, Illinois, and operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance LLC, a joint partnership between the University of Chicago and the Universities Research Association Inc. Visit Fermilab’s website at www.fnal.gov and follow us on Twitter at @Fermilab.
The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit http://science.energy.gov.