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Cockcroft Accelerator Group


The Manchester Cockcroft Accelerator Group is involved in many aspects of accelerator physics research and participates in numerous international collaborations. The group specialises in collimator design, cavity design, FFAG design, beam dynamics, and wakefield studies. The group is involved in LHC (and LHeC and HL-LHC) , CLIC, ILC, ATF, EMMA, CONFORM, FLASH, and NLS.

The group is part of the Cockcroft Institute, and has a close relationship with the Particle Physics and Nuclear Physics Groups, and with the Dalton Institute.


The Accelerator Group is involved with a number of collaborations. Most prominent at the moment is our involvement with the Large Hadron Collider, where we are contributing to understanding the detector backgrounds and collimation system in present operation. We are also closely involved with the plans for the High-Luminosity LHC Upgrade (Rob Appleby leads the optics and collimation activity), and the proposal for the LHeC in which electron-proton collisions wil enable complementary measurements to be carried out. We were until recently also involved with the ATLAS Forward Physics project.

A second activity is Manchester's contribution to the future linear collider, where the focus has recently shifted to technology resesarch for the Compact Linear Collider. Roger Jones is taking a leading role in the development of damped/detuned structures that can deliver the extremely high accelerating gradients required for a 1-3 TeV collision energy, and current activities include structure design and construction, wakefield analysis, use of higher-order modes for beam characterisation, and resesarch into the fundamental surface science limitations on cavity performance.

Manchester also proposed and obtained Basic Technology funding for the world's first non-scaling FFAG accelerator. This prototype accelerator has now been constructed and is operating at Daresbury Laboratory, where it is the focus of a large international collaboration. By successfuly demonstrating fast resonance crossing in such an accelerator, this prototype will enable the construction of more compact and reliable proton accelerators for a variety of applications. First and foremost is their use as a more flexible method for delivering proton radiotherapy for cancer treatment, and a design study has recently been completed as part of the CONFORM project. Secondly, multibunch operation enables high currents to be achieved at lower cost to provide a realistic proton driver for an accelerator-driven subcritical reactor (see below). Thirdly, the same high current proton drivers may be used in neutrino-based high-energy physics experiments, either for the future Neutrino Factory, or for decay-at-rest experiments such as the DAEDALUS project, in which we are involved. As part of the provision of future proton/ion radiotherapy, Manchester academics are collaborating with the Christie Hospital in their proposal to construct the UK's first high-energy proton therapy centre. We are also exploring ways in which such facilities may be upgraded at modest cost to enhance the beam properties that can be delivered to patients.

Accelerator-driven subcritical reactors (ADSRs) are one of the candidate technologies for future low-carbon energy production, but much research remains to be carried out before they can be implemented on a pilot or commercial scale. We are carrying out a number of studies, examining the feasibility of high-current proton FFAG proton drivers (with the CONFORM programme), core design and fuel evolution (with University of Huddersfield), demonstration accelerators (with Imperial College London), and instrumentation development. Two academics (Roger Barlow and Hywel Owen) are founder members of the ThorEA organisation, which promotes research collaborations on ADSR technologies. A related topic is the development of neutron sources for ADSR and other applications. We are presently working on muon production (with University of Huddersfield), neutron activiation for isotope production (with University of Lancaster), and pulsed neutron instrumentation for reactor characterisation (with Imperial College London).

The Accelerator Group is also involved with the UK's development acvitity for future sources of synchrotron light (SR), particularly from free-electron lasers. Hywel Owen played an important role in the design of ALICE (now operating at Daresbury), and the New Light Source proposal. Since the suspension of the NLS project this year, we are carrying out theoretical work on new methods of SR production.

Accelerator Group staff are committed to outreach, and we regularly take part in public events to discuss research with interested people. For example, we organise and run the Manchester Particle Physics Masterclass, which is highly rated each year by the 200 or so 6th-form students that take part in it each year. Brian Cox's talk last year on fundamental physics was a particular highlight. We also give regular public lectures, particularly in energy and nuclear power, for example at the British Association SciBars at Didsbury, Knutsford and Bollington.


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