- Number 339 |
- June 13, 2011
First beam to MuCool experimental area
The MuCool Test Area as seen
from its downstream end,
looking toward the proton beam
line. A beam absorber and
collimators are in the foreground
and the beam line is in the
background. Credit: Fermilab
A decade ago, a muon collider was considered nearly impossible to build. Now, scientists at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are able to test some critical components for such an accelerator with a beam of protons.
Muons, the electron’s heavy cousins, are unstable and decay in two millionths of a second. Scientists can create large numbers of muons by smashing protons into a dense target. But making the muons collide is a very challenging task since the muons emerging from the target are diffuse and would be hard to accelerate.
At Fermilab’s MuCool Test Area, scientists are exploring methods to cool the muons and corral them into dense beams. One proposed method, known as ionization cooling, would focus muons into a laser-like beam by forcing them through a series of magnets and absorbers. The absorbers, which are filled with liquid hydrogen, slow the muons and absorb their energy, while the magnets narrow the beam to prepare them for injection into an accelerator. The entire cooling process has to take place quickly, before the muons decay.Developing and optimizing the ionization cooling method is an important step for a future muon collider, which would create particle collisions at record energies. With the MuCool Test Area, experimenters soon can put their cooling method to the test.
[Kurt Riesselmann, 630.840.5681,