Fermi National Laboratory

Fermilab Statement on a Proton Driver

Fermilab's Long Range Plan envisions the laboratory as the leader of U.S. accelerator-based particle physics in 2015 and beyond. To address the most compelling scientific questions of 21st-century physics, Fermilab proposes to host an internationally designed, constructed and operated International Linear Collider. Neutrino physics offers a second potential area for world leadership by Fermilab. A proposed proton driver, working with the existing Main Injector, would produce the most intense neutrino beams in the world. The ILC and a proton driver would both use superconducting accelerating cavities, creating a synergy in their R&D programs. For the near future, Fermilab is pursuing R&D for both the ILC and a proton driver, in parallel.

Strategic Context
The Fermilab Long Range Plan, (http://www.fnal.gov/directorate/Longrange/Long_range_planning.html), defines Fermilab's strategy for the future. The vision for 2015 and beyond is that Fermilab will remain the primary site for accelerator-based particle physics in the U.S. The Long Range Plan presents two possibilities, each addressing an area of extraordinary scientific opportunity:

  1. Fermilab as host to an internationally designed, constructed and operated linear collider. The International Linear Collider will be the next particle physics accelerator project after the Large Hadron Collider. It will address the most compelling questions in particle physics. During the period of ILC preconstruction and construction, the present Fermilab accelerator complex would continue to provide an excellent physics program. Fermilab would remain a world center for particle physics with accelerators for many decades.

  2. Fermilab as home to the world's leading neutrino program. As a result of several recent discoveries, physicists see the opportunity to use neutrinos for exploring physics at a very high energy scale. Fermilab is taking the lead in accelerator-based neutrino physics with the MINOS and MiniBooNE experiments. The capability of the Fermilab program can be extended by the construction of new, larger neutrino detectors and a multi-megawatt proton driver. A long-baseline neutrino beam with very high intensity is an essential part of the world program in neutrino physics; a proton driver at Fermilab would be the least expensive way to achieve that capability.

The ideal outcome for U.S. particle physics is rapid progress toward construction of the ILC at Fermilab, along with continuing evolution of the neutrino program. The timeline for the ILC project will depend on political and financial issues more than on technical limitations.

Fermilab is planning ambitious upgrades to the laboratory's neutrino program in order to take maximum advantage of the existing accelerator complex. The evolution of the neutrino program at Fermilab and worldwide will adapt to developments over time, including the progress of the ILC.

Role of a Proton Driver
The rapidly growing field of neutrino physics already shows evidence of new physics beyond our current understanding of the universe. To solve the many mysteries of neutrinos will require a range of experiments, some with accelerators and some without. The unique role of the Fermilab program would build on the long-baseline neutrino facility NuMI, now nearly complete, giving Fermilab an unsurpassed base for the development of a world-leading neutrino program.

The Fermilab neutrino program will advance in steps to increase the proton intensity and the size of the neutrino detectors. Each step will yield a major increase in sensitivity to the most promising neutrino physics. Building a proton driver would achieve the next major step in the accelerator complex by providing 2 MW of proton power at 120 GeV, about eight times the initial power of the NuMI beam line. In light of the recommendations of the Long Range Plan and of the International Technology Recommendation Panel for the ILC, Fermilab has chosen to focus on the development of superconducting acceleration technology for a proton driver.

Synergy of R&D for ILC and Proton Driver
The overlap in R&D for a proton driver and the International Linear Collider benefits both projects. Each proposes to use high gradient superconducting cavities operating in pulsed mode to accelerate particles traveling near light speed. In particular, the proposed Superconducting Module Test Facility at Fermilab would serve both programs. The SMTF could also be used by other accelerator projects that require a test facility for superconducting accelerating structures.

Current Actions
For the near future, Fermilab will pursue R&D toward the ILC and a proton driver in parallel. Fermilab is studying the physics opportunities created by a proton driver; and the detectors that the associated experiments would require. The immediate goal of proton driver activities is to produce documentation to support a determination of mission need Critical Decision 0 in the DOE project management system) and to move forward with proton driver R&D toward Critical Decision 1.

Fermilab scientists are preparing a proposal for the SMTF that would support the needs of both ILC and proton driver R&D.

last modified 10/05/2004   email Fermilab