About the Fermilab Accelerators
The Fermilab chain of accelerators begins with an electrostatic pre-accelerator based on the Cockcroft-Walton design. It produces H- ions with an energy of 750 keV (1 eV = one electron volt). The H- means that an extra ion has been added to the proton, giving it an overall negative charge.
The history of the Nobel-Prize-winning Cockcroft-Walton design
John Cockcroft had also proposed using protons as a means of disintegration. Walton built most of the high voltage and accelerator apparatus while Cockcroft solved many of Walton's engineering problems.
The final Cockcroft-Walton machine, completed at Cavendish in 1932, was the first linear accelerator. Their work on the transmutation of lithium not only corroborated Gamow's theory of tunneling, but it was the initial verification of Einstein's law concerning the equivalence of mass and Energy, E=mc2.
The larger machines of the 1950s and 60s and high-energy physics as we know it are a direct result of the fundamental research performed by John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton. As Rutherford said, "it's the first step that counts."
The figure is a diagram of the original Cockcroft-Walton accelerator at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, c. 1932. In 1951, during Professor I. Waller's presentation of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Sir John Cockcroft, Waller said:
Thus, for the first time, a nuclear transmutation was produced by means entirely under human control."
|last modified 10/12/2001 email Fermilab|