US funding for accelerator technology

18 March 2021

The US Department of Energy (DOE) on 16 March announced $18 million in new funding to advance particle accelerator technology. The new funding also includes $5 million for university-based traineeships that will build a diverse, skilled pipeline of American accelerator scientists and engineers.

“Accelerator-based technologies are all around us, from new medical therapies to ways to make solar panels — and we’ve only scratched the surface of their potential to tackle a host of 21st-century challenges,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. “This new funding will help us discover even more opportunities to advance the health and prosperity of our nation and planet with the best technology available, while investing in the next generation of American problem-solvers.”

DOE's National Laboratories played a crucial role in the early development of particle accelerator technologies. In 1930, Ernest Lawrence, founder of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, developed the first circular particle accelerator. The Lab has since pioneered the use of protons, alpha particles (helium nuclei), and other light ions for therapy and radiobiology. Other DOE accelerator facilities have helped develop critical accelerator technology, including the technology behind external-beam cancer therapy and isotopes for diagnosis and therapy.

Under this announcement, up to $6 million will be awarded as part of DOE’s Accelerator Stewardship programme in the Office of Accelerator R&D and Production. This will focus on advancing these technologies for medical, energy, industrial, and security applications that can benefit American society.

Up to $7 million will be awarded as part of DOE’s “Data Analytics for Autonomous Optimisation and Control of Accelerators and Detectors” funding opportunity from the Office of Nuclear Physics. This will focus on tackling technical challenges, optimising the operations of complex accelerators, and advancing experimental discovery at labs and facilities across the USA.

Up to $5 million will be awarded as part of DOE’s “Traineeship in Accelerator Science & Engineering” funding opportunity from the Office of High Energy Physics. This ill go towards traineeships at universities with accelerator programmes, including minority-serving institutions.

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