Work on new technical capabilities for NSCL users moves forward

NSCL is under construction. And despite the winter weather, including more than 20 inches of snow in December, progress continues on various expansion projects. The upgraded facilities will include new office space for faculty and staff, and new experimental areas for research with stopped and reaccelerated beams, a laser program, and other new technical capabilities to benefit NSCL users.

Among the construction milestones last fall: completing all steelwork for the experimental addition; tearing down one of the original wings of the NSCL building to make space for the new office addition; completing the office addition grade beams and underground utilities; and drilling the elevator shaft hole.

Work to erect the steel superstructure of the office addition started December 15 and is ongoing (see photo), as is masonry work on the experimental addition, which is set to be enclosed in February.


Work on the steel superstructure of the NSCL office addition. View larger image.

Indoors, NSCL faculty and staff are making similar strides toward implementing new planned research capabilities related to the ReA3 project, many of which are expected to come online in 2010. The ReA3 linear accelerator will allow users to perform experiments with stopped and reaccelerated rare isotopes produced by fragmentation and fission of Coupled Cyclotron Facility beams. The project will provide a variety of new beams that are difficult to produce with more traditional Isotope Separation On-Line, ISOL, techniques.

The balcony that will hold ReA3 and associated beam lines is complete and ready for mounting of devices. And development continues on the various components to stop, transport, charge-breed and reaccelerate rare isotopes for research, most notably in nuclear astrophysics. These components include:

  • the linear gas stopper (the momentum compression line to allow efficient capture of fragments is designed and magnets are under fabrication, while R-and-D continues on the optics of the cyrogenic linear gas cell and the RF carpet)
  • the low-energy beamline system from the gas stopper to the EBIT and also to the new stopped beam area (the optics design is done and the electrostatic beam transport elements are under construction)
  • the EBIT charge breeder and Q/A separator (the electron gun and collector is built and will be tested soon, while the superconducting magnet is ordered and scheduled to arrive in May 2009)
  • the LINAC (the RFQ has been ordered and is under construction, as are the cavities and solenoids for the three cryomodules, and also the rebuncher cryomodule; the cavity used in the rebuncher module has been completed and tested)

In addition to building capability for research with stopped and reaccelerated beams, NSCL is implementing a laser program to measure fundamental properties of rare isotopes, including charge radii, quadrupole moments and magnetic moments.

NSCL's laser program will be somewhat unique in experimental nuclear science. This is largely because the laboratory's capabilities to produce and manipulate rare isotopes (via in-flight fragmentation and gas stopping) will provide access to nuclei not readily available at ISOL facilities, where laser spectroscopy programs have thrived for many years.

The first stage of the laser program will include a high intensity cooler/buncher, which is 70 percent complete, and a laser polarizer beamline, for which optics simulations have been performed. Among other project updates:

  • detailed design of beam switchyard and sodium cell is underway
  • the bid package for the laser system is being developed
  • preliminary layouts of the low-energy beam transport lines and laser room are in progress

Support for NSCL's expansion efforts comes primarily MSU, recently selected by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science as the site for Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB.

The construction of FRIB at MSU is contingent upon several factors, including the negotiation of cooperative agreement between the DOE Office of Science and MSU and completion of an environmental impact assessment. However, pending the successful completion of these and other milestones, MSU intends to contribute essentially all the new civil and technical infrastructure to the new facility, which according to the preconceptual design will be adjacent to NSCL.

NSCL, operated as a national user facility by the National Science Foundation, will continue to run and extend its science program even as the FRIB project gets underway. The laboratory has issued its latest call for proposals, due Feb. 26, for consideration at the April 17-18 Program Advisory Committee meeting.

More information on DOE Office of Science selection of MSU as the site for FRIB is available in this Dec. 11 press release: www.energy.gov/news/6794.htm.