Reconfiguration readies NSCL for world-class research

NSCL is nearing the halfway point of a major reconfiguration of its experimental area, the laboratory's largest construction project in nearly a decade. The $2.7 million facility enhancement, in direct response to advice received during its 2006 user workshop, will keep the laboratory's science program at the cutting edge of nuclear science and allow for tests of technologies critical to next-generation rare isotope beam facilities, such as the Isotope Science Facility at Michigan State University.

The reconfiguration entails several changes to the facility, all which are intended to enable users to do better science. Among these changes:

  • new area devoted to neutron time-of-flight measurements in the S2 vault
  • removal of the 4π array and combination of the N2 and N3 vaults as a multipurpose vault with the sweeper magnet and MoNA detectors
  • space for a new laser program with stopped beams in the N6 vault, previously occupied by MoNA
  • a large acceptance high-resolution momentum compression beamline in the N4 vault for a new gas catcher
  • elimination of the A1900 extended focal plane, which will save three hours of beam tuning for each experiment

The project began in late May and much visible progress has been made. NSCL has installed a camera to provide Web-based images, refreshed every ten seconds during business hours, of the reconfiguration project. Additionally, a brief video clip shows one particularly busy day, June 6, during which new shielding walls were installed around the experimental equipment.

Previously, the walls had been built from stacked bricks. The new walls, clearly visible in the video, are made from larger pre-cast blocks, which reduces time required for this and future reconfiguration projects.

This week the first of the quadrupoles were placed adjacent to the A1900 focal plane while work continued on a new focal plane detector box in the NSCL east high bay. The first of the core assemblies of the 45-degree switching dipoles is being leak-checked, and the complete dipole is scheduled for installation at the end of next week, following the installation of the remaining quadrupoles. Connection of all the cryogenics will occupy much of the rest of the summer.

As part of the reconfiguration, MoNA will be broken up into modules, making it easier to measure multiple neutron events and detect neutrons over a larger angular range. MoNA researchers and students will visit the lab the week of June 25 to help move the MoNA detectors. The visitors will disconnect cables from the array, move it and perform some of the re-cabling. Other MoNA collaborators will come later this summer finish re-cabling and testing the detectors.

The reconfiguration project is on-schedule and on-budget and NSCL user experiments will recommence October 1.