- Number 358 |
- March 12, 2012
Fermilab Test Beam Facility helps scientists from around the world
At the Test Beam Facility at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists line up to test new detector technologies that will help shape the future of particle physics. Whether experimenters need a few pions or lots of protons, Aria Soha and her colleagues can deliver.
“We’ve had a group that asked for 10 particles to be delivered every couple of minutes,” said physicist Soha, who coordinates the experiments at the facility. “We were able to do it.”
The Fermilab Test Beam Facility offers the only high-energy hadron test beam in the United States. Since 2005, the FTBF has staged 38 experiments, conducted by 528 collaborators from 119 institutions in 23 countries. It is a proving ground for detector designs being developed for particle physics experiments in the United States, Europe and Asia. In the future, scientists might even test particle detectors for medical imaging applications at the facility.
In February, the facility provided hands-on training for 64 graduate students and young scientists who came to Fermilab for the two-week Excellence in Detectors and Instrumentation Technologies school that Soha helped to organize.
Soha coordinates, as she describes it, "anything and everything that needs to be coordinated" under the building's distinctive blue, corrugated-steel roof. She is the head of the Intensity Frontier and Test Beams Group in Fermilab’s Particle Physics Division. The group is responsible for the test beam facility as well as operational support for on-going neutrino and other fixed-target experiments.
Soha assumed her position after working as an accelerator operator in the Main Control Room since 2002.
"The facility has thrived under her direction," said physicist Erik Ramberg, who revived Fermilab’s test beam program in 2002.
The test beam is so popular among detector and instrumentation experts around the world, that there is often a waiting line for beam time. The only other high-energy hadron test beam is at the European research center CERN in Switzerland. Work has begun at the FTBF to add a second beam line in case demand continues to rise.
Corrado Gatto, of the Sezione di Napoli of Italy’s Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) and spokesperson of Fermilab test beam experiment T-1015, described his group’s experience at the FTBF as “nothing short of excellent,” praising the great flexibility and individual attention.
“The hard part,” Gatto said, “is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to book beam time at FTBF, with lead times longer than six months.”
Originally from New York City, Soha completed her physics degree from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She joined Fermilab’s Accelerator Division in 2002 as an accelerator operator, on the referral of another Carnegie-Mellon alum working as an operator. Her experience there has proved to be a big advantage for her current position.
"I know the beam, I made the beam for seven years," she said. "I can translate between the beam operators and the experimenters."
Submitted by DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory