The Fermilab accelerator complex

Fermilab's accelerator complex comprises ten particle accelerators and storage rings. It produces the world's most powerful, high-energy neutrino beam and provides proton and neutron beams for various experiments, R&D programs as well as cancer treatment.

In 2012, Fermilab will upgrade its accelerator complex to double the beam intensity of its high-energy neutrino beam and to provide optimal beam for a broad range of new and existing experiments at the Intensity Frontier.

Fermilab pursues an active accelerator R&D program, collaborating with industry, universities and laboratories around the world. The laboratory operates a superconducting test accelerator and is developing plans to build a new, half-mile-long proton accelerator, Project X, on the Fermilab site.

Fermilab’s 10 Particle Accelerators

Fermilab accelerator Size/energy Plans for the future
Cockcroft Walton pre-accelerator
Fills a space about the size of a large living room with high ceilings; accelerates particles to 750,000 electron volts (750 keV) Provides the particles for the Linear Accelerator and the rest of Fermilab’s chain of accelerators;
Will be replaced with a more efficient particle source in 2012
Linear Accelerator
About 500 feet long; accelerates particles to 400,000,000 eV (400 MeV) or about 70 percent of the speed of light Provides neutron beam for cancer treatment;
Provides proton beam for the MuCool test area, which is used to develop accelerator components for a future muon collider
Provides proton beam for the Booster accelerator and the rest of the chain of accelerators
About 1,500 feet in circumference; accelerates particles to 8,000,000,000 eV
(8 GeV)
Provides low-energy neutrino beam for the MiniBooNE experiment and, in late 2013, the MicroBooNE experiment
Provides proton beam for the Main Injector accelerator
Main Injector
About 2 miles in circumference; accelerates particles up to 150 GeV, or more than 99 percent of the speed of light Creates world’s highest-intensity neutrino beam;
Will be upgraded in 2012 to double the number of neutrinos produced;
Provides beam for the following neutrino experiments: MINOS, Minerva and, beginning in 2013, NOvA; a fourth neutrino experiment, LBNE, is in planning;
Provides low-intensity particle beams for testing of detector technologies;
Will provide proton beam to the SeaQuest fixed-target experiment;
About 2 miles in circumference; stores particles at 8 GeV Stored antiprotons prior to injection into the Tevatron;
In the future, will be used to store protons to make operations of Main Injector accelerator more efficient
Electron cooling
Used a 25-foot-high Pelletron to accelerate electrons to 3.5 MeV so that they have the same speed as 8 GeV antiprotons Cooled antiprotons by surrounding them with electrons traveling at same speed to create narrower, more dense antiproton beam for the Tevatron; no immediate use after the Tevatron shutdown;
Antiproton Source
About 1,600 feet in circumference Produced antiprotons for the Tevatron; Will be modified to provide muons for the Muon g-2 experiment and later will support the Mu2e experiment
About 6 kilometers in circumference; accelerated particles to 1,000,000,000,000 eV (1 TeV) Created world’s highest-energy proton-antiproton collisions for the CDF and DZero experiments; proposals exist to reuse parts of the accelerator and its tunnel for educational tours or new experiments;
SRF Test Accelerator
When complete, about 460 feet long; will accelerate electrons up to 1.5 GeV Gives scientists the opportunity to test superconducting radio-frequency acceleration technologies, which is the technology of choice for future high-energy accelerators;
Construction is under way to expand the test accelerator and to build up to five test stations and one electron ring for studies involving electron beams
Photo Injector
About 50 feet long; uses UV laser to knock electrons out of a metal and accelerates them to 16 MeV Helped develop efficient particle sources for future accelerators; Will be dismantled and parts will be reused for a particle source at the SRF Test Accelerator;
Some components will be moved to the new Illinois Accelerator Research Center
Proposed: Project X
Proposed to be about half a mile long; would accelerate particles to 3 GeV and then
8 GeV
Proposed to create the world’s highest-intensity proton beam, with more particles more densely packed than in any other accelerator in the world; Groundbreaking could occur in 2015 or later
Would provide 3-GeV beam for kaon, muon and nuclei experiments
Would provide 8-GeV beam to the Main Injector accelerator and the related research programs, replacing the 40-year-old Linear and Booster accelerators

In addition to accelerator-based research, Fermilab carries out a broad range of particle astrophysics experiments, including research on cosmic rays, dark matter and dark energy.

Last modified: 01/16/2012  |