NEWPORT NEWS, VA - While particle accelerators may be on the cutting edge of science, the building and preparation of some particle accelerator components has long been more of an art form, dependent on recipes born of trial and error.
A staff scientist at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Palczewski has been awarded a DOE Early Career Research Program grant to put the science back into particle accelerator preparation.
Particle accelerators are go-to machines for researchers who want to understand the tiniest bits of matter or analyze the X-ray structure of complex molecules, for companies looking to sanitize medical devices and for scanning cargo at our nation's borders.
When it comes to building better components for superconducting radiofrequency, or SRF, accelerators, such as Jefferson Lab's own CEBAF, traditional wisdom has held that the most efficient components are made of the purest niobium metal.
That wisdom was turned on its head in 2012, when two Jefferson Lab staff scientists unintentionally implanted atoms of titanium into the walls of niobium accelerator components with surprising results.
"Gianluigi Ciovati and Pashupati Dhakal discovered titanium doping when they accidentally implanted titanium in a specific way into the niobium, which made the niobium component much more efficient at accelerating particles."