Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

Have a safe day!

Monday, Sept. 22

2 p.m.
Particle Astrophysics Seminar - Curia II
Speaker: Marilena Loverde, University of Chicago
Title: Testing Neutrino Properties with Large-Scale Structure

3:30 p.m.

4 p.m.
All Experimenters' Meeting
Special Topic: LArIAT

Tuesday, Sept. 23

8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Ninth International Workshop on Neutrino Beams and Instrumentation - One West
Register in person
Registration fee: $38

10:30 a.m.
Research Techniques Seminar - Curia II
Speaker: Peter Shirron, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Title: Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigerators for Cooling Low-Temperature Detectors in Space

3:30 p.m.


Visit the labwide calendar to view Fermilab events

Weather Sunny

Extended forecast
Weather at Fermilab

Current Flag Status

Flags at full staff

Wilson Hall Cafe

Monday, Sept. 22

- Breakfast: oatmeal raisin pancakes
- Breakfast: sausage, egg and cheese croissant
- Classic reuben sandwich
- Orange-glazed roasted pork loin
- Grilled barbecue chicken
- Classic club sandwich
- Mandarin orange and pecan chicken salad
- Texas-style chili
- Cuban black bean soup
- Assorted pizza by the slice

Wilson Hall Cafe menu

Chez Leon

Wednesday, Sept. 24
- Pan-fried catfish
- Southern style collard greens
- Black eyed peas
- Cornbread
- Sweet potato pie

Friday, Sept. 26
- Cold cucumber soup
- Linguine with clam sauce
- Sauteed asparagus spears
- Lemon blueberry cake

Chez Leon menu
Call x3524 to make your reservation.


Fermilab Today

Director's Corner

Frontier Science Result

Physics in a Nutshell

Tip of the Week

User University Profiles

Related content


Fermilab Today
is online at:

Send comments and suggestions to:

Visit the Fermilab
home page

Unsubscribe from Fermilab Today


Breakthrough: nanotube cathode creates more electron beam than large laser system

Harsha Panunganti of Northern Illinois University works on the laser system (turned off here) normally used to create electron beams from a photocathode. Photo: Reidar Hahn

Lasers are cool, except when they're clunky, expensive and delicate.

So a collaboration led by RadiaBeam Technologies, a California-based technology firm actively involved in accelerator R&D, is designing an electron beam source that doesn't need a laser. The team led by Luigi Faillace, a scientist at RadiaBeam, is testing a carbon nanotube cathode — about the size of a nickel — in Fermilab's High-Brightness Electron Source Lab (HBESL) that completely eliminates the need for a room-sized laser system currently used to generate the electron beam.

Fermilab was sought out to test the experimental cathode because of its capability and expertise for handling intense electron beams, one of relatively few labs that can support this project.

Tests have shown that the vastly smaller cathode does a better job than the laser. Philippe Piot, a staff scientist in the Fermilab Accelerator Division and a joint appointee at Northern Illinois University, says tests have produced beam currents a thousand to a million times greater than the one generated with a laser. This remarkable result means that electron beam equipment used in industry may become not only less expensive and more compact, but also more efficient. A laser like the one in HBESL runs close to half a million dollars, Piot said, about hundred times more than RadiaBeam's cathode.

The technology has extensive applications in medical equipment and national security, as an electron beam is a critical component in generating X-rays. And while carbon nanotube cathodes have been studied extensively in academia, Fermilab is the first facility to test the technology within a full-scale setting.

"People have talked about it for years," said Piot, "but what was missing was a partnership between people that have the know-how at a lab, a university and a company."

Piot and Fermilab scientist Charles Thangaraj are partnering with RadiaBeam Technologies staff Luigi Faillace and Josiah Hartzell and Northern Illinois University student Harsha Panuganti and researcher Daniel Mihalcea. A U.S. Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research grant, a federal endowment designed to bridge the R&D gap between basic research and commercial products, funds the project. The work represents the kind of research that will be enabled in the future at the Illinois Accelerator Research Center — a facility that brings together Fermilab expertise and industry.

The new cathode appears at first glance like a smooth black button, but at the nanoscale it resembles, in Piot's words, "millions of lightning rods."

"When you apply an electric field, the field lines organize themselves around the rods' extremities and enhance the field," Piot said. The electric field at the peaks is so intense that it pulls streams of electrons off the cathode, creating the beam.

Traditionally, lasers strike cathodes in order to eject electrons through photoemission. Those electrons form a beam by piggybacking onto a radio-frequency wave, synchronized to the laser pulses and formed in a resonance cavity. Powerful magnets focus the beam. The tested nanotube cathode requires no laser as it needs only the electric field already generated by the accelerator to siphon the electrons off, a process dubbed field emission.

The intense electric field, though, has been a tremendous liability. Piot said critics thought the cathode "was just going to explode and ruin the electron source, and we would be crying because it would be dead."

One of the first discoveries Piot's team made when they began testing in May was that the cathode did not, in fact, explode and ruin everything. The exceptional strength of carbon nanotubes makes the project feasible.

Still, Piot continues to study ways to optimize the design of the cathode to prevent any smaller, adverse effects that may take place within the beam assembly. Future research also may focus on redesigning an accelerator that natively incorporates the carbon nanotube cathode to avoid any compatibility issues.

Troy Rummler

The dark carbon-nanotube-coated area of this field emission cathode is made of millions of nanotubes that function like little lightning rods. At Fermilab's High-Brightness Electron Source Lab, scientists have tested this cathode in the front end of an accelerator, where a strong electric field siphons electrons off the nanotubes to create an intense electron beam. Photo: Reidar Hahn
In the News

What is the universe? Real physics has some mind-bending answers

From Smithsonian, Sept. 15, 2014

The questions are as big as the universe and (almost) as old as time: Where did I come from, and why am I here? That may sound like a query for a philosopher, but if you crave a more scientific response, try asking a cosmologist.

This branch of physics is hard at work trying to decode the nature of reality by matching mathematical theories with a bevy of evidence. Today most cosmologists think that the universe was created during the big bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The cosmos is woven into a fabric we call space-time, which is embroidered with a cosmic web of brilliant galaxies and invisible dark matter.

Read more

Tip of the Week:
Quality Assurance

Congratulations on receiving environment, health and safety certifications

Fermilab has maintained ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certifications, which provides assurance to DOE that the laboratory is meeting our contract requirements for environmental, occupational health and safety.

On Aug. 20 Fermilab completed its semiannual surveillance audit, conducted by NSF International (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation).

The audit is a beneficial step in maintaining ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certifications, which are related to environment, occupational health and safety. The audit involved assessments of Fermilab's research and development, manufacturing, waste management and site infrastructure management at all facilities on the Fermilab property in accordance with the current Department of Energy contract.

The final report of the audit noted that there were no non-conformances in the reviewed programs and included a recommendation to maintain certification with ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007.

During the audit, the following positive practices were noted:

  1. Communication improved across the laboratory, for example, through all-hands meetings.
  2. Cold aisle containment in the Grid Computing Center has led to a decrease in energy use.
  3. The Grid Computing Center was awarded the ENERGY STAR for four consecutive years.
  4. The implementation of human performance improvement methods increased the quality of cause analyses and linkage to action plans.
  5. Human performance improvement data collection has improved efficiency, productivity, environment, health, safety and quality at Fermilab.
  6. ESH&Q Quality Assurance Group involvement improved management system processes at the laboratory.
  7. Staff improved data management, leading to corrective and preventive actions.
  8. The iTrack Task Force helped investigate ways to improve Fermilab's issues tracking process.

The auditing group reviewed programs within the ESH&Q and Facilities Engineering Services sections and the Core Computing and Scientific Computing divisions.

The auditors noted that staff conducts effective internal assessments, which are a combination of so-called tripartite assessments (conducted by three third-party groups: divisions or sections, the ESH&Q Section and DOE), self-assessments by divisions, sections or projects, and quality assurance self-assessments. These assessments are all monitored by the ESH&Q Quality Assurance Group and have proven to be effective tools that have enhanced the Quality and ES&H management systems and overall quality and safety culture at Fermilab.

The ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification is a great recognition for the laboratory and highlights the fact that our Quality and ES&H management systems are important components of our organization and can help deliver better processes that optimize performance, drive costs down and improve customer satisfaction.

J.B. Dawson

Photo of the Day

Prospect of sunflowers

Wilson Hall rises out of a bed of saw-toothed sunflowers. Photo: Marty Murphy, AD
In the News

CERN — Six decades of science, innovation, cooperation and inspiration

From APS' The Back Page, September 2014

Editor's note: Fermilab scientist Chris Quigg wrote this article.

This month, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, which straddles the Swiss-French border northwest of Geneva, celebrates its sixtieth birthday. CERN is the preeminent particle-physics institution in the world, currently emphasizing the study of collisions of protons and heavy nuclei at very high energies and the exploration of physics on the electroweak scale (energies where electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force merge). With brilliant accomplishments in research, innovation, and education, and a sustained history of cooperation among people from different countries and cultures, CERN ranks as one of the signal achievements of the postwar European Project. For physicists the world over, the laboratory is a source of pride and inspiration.

CERN is a very large, and highly cosmopolitan, research institution, with 2500 staff members, 600 Fellows and apprentices, and nearly 12,000 "associated members," representing more than 110 countries. The 2014 budget is 1.1 billion Swiss francs ($1.2B). The United States has the largest participation among Observer states, with 1765 scientists drawn from 112 institutes. The European Commission and UNESCO also have Observer status, and in 2012 CERN became an Observer to the United Nations General Assembly.

Read more


Today's New Announcements

New ebook available sitewide

Artist reception - Sept. 26

Mike Super at Fermilab - Sept. 27

Access 2010: Intermediate - Oct. 2

Labwide celebration - Oct. 8

Interpersonal Communications Skills - Oct. 21

Excel 2010: Intermediate - Oct. 29

Writing for Results: Email and More (morning only) - Oct. 30

Managing Conflict course (morning only) - Nov. 5

Access 2010: Advanced - Nov. 12

Excel 2010: Advanced - Dec. 3

Added room locations in the FermiMail Calendar

NALWO Playgroup meets Wednesdays at Users Center

Abri Credit Union financial advisor

Indoor soccer