Fermilab To Replace 1960s Accelerator With Super-Powerful, $600 Million PIP-II

Fermilab To Replace 1960s Accelerator With Super-Powerful, $600 Million PIP-II

Fermilab's new accelerator complex

Fermilab’s flagship project, the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, will be the largest physics project of its kind ever built, officials said in the most recent edition of Fermilab Frontiers.

For that experiment to reach its full potential, it’s going to need the world’s most powerful neutrino beam, and Fermilab is ready to provide just that.

This month, the lab received the latest in a series of approvals from the U.S. Department of Energy for its Proton Improvement Plan II, a $600 million project that will see a new 176-meter-long linear accelerator built to replace the current one, constructed in the late 1960s.

PIP-II will significantly upgrade the entire accelerator chain at Fermilab, and like DUNE, the plan is to have it operational in about 10 years.

Read more on Fermilab’s website, and also check out this profile of Lia Merminga, the PIP-II project director.

“PIP-II’s high-power accelerators and its national and multinational partnerships reinforce Fermilab’s position as the accelerator-based neutrino physics capital of the world,” said DOE Undersecretary for Science Paul Dabbar.

“LBNF/DUNE, the Fermilab-based megascience experiment for neutrino research, has already attracted more than 1,000 collaborators from 32 countries,” Dabbar added. “With the accelerator side of the experiment ramping up in the form of PIP-II, not only does Fermilab attract collaborators worldwide to do neutrino science, but U.S. particle physics also gets a powerful boost.”

According to the PIP-II Reference Design Report, the estimated cost of PIP-II is $600 million in 2020 dollars, including both development and construction costs, related accelerator improvement projects, direct and indirect costs, and 40 percent contingency.

Potential offsets to this number in the form of possible international in-kind contributions are valued at $150 million.

PIP-II’s Powerful Neutrino Stream

Neutrinos are ubiquitous yet fleeting particles, the most difficult to capture of all of the members of the subatomic particle family.

Scientists capture them by sending neutrino beams generated from particle accelerators to large, stories-high detectors. The greater the number of neutrinos sent to the detectors, the greater the chances the detectors will catch them, and the more opportunity there is to study these subatomic escape artists.

That’s where PIP-II comes in.

These five-cell superconducting radio-frequency cavities are one of the central features of PIP-II.

Fermilab’s upgraded PIP-II accelerator complex will generate proton beams of significantly greater power than is currently available. The increase in beam power translates into more neutrinos that can be sent to the lab’s various neutrino experiments. The result will be the world’s most intense high-energy neutrino beam.

The goal of PIP-II is to produce a proton beam of more than 1 megawatt, about 60 percent higher than the existing accelerator complex supplies. Eventually, enabled by PIP-II, Fermilab could upgrade the accelerator to double that power to more than 2 megawatts.

“At that power, we can just flood the detectors with neutrinos,” said DUNE co-spokesperson and University of Chicago physicist Ed Blucher. “That’s what so exciting. Every neutrino that stops in our detectors adds a bit of information to our picture of the universe. And the more neutrinos that stop, the closer we get to filling in the picture.”

The largest and most ambitious of these detectors are those in DUNE, which is scheduled to start up in the mid-2020s. DUNE will use two detectors separated by a distance of 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) — one at Fermilab and a second, much larger detector situated one mile underground in South Dakota at the Sanford Underground Research Facility.

Prototypes of those technologically advanced neutrino detectors are now under construction at the European particle physics laboratory CERN, which is a major partner in LBNF/DUNE, and are expected to take data later this year.

Fermilab’s accelerators, enhanced according to the PIP-II plan, will send a beam of neutrinos to the DUNE detector at Fermilab. The beam will continue its path straight through Earth’s crust to the detector in South Dakota.

Scientists will study the data gathered by both detectors, comparing them to get a better handle on how neutrino properties change over the long distance.

The detector located in South Dakota, known as the DUNE far detector, is enormous. It will stand four stories high and occupy an area equivalent to a soccer field.  With its supporting platform LBNF, DUNE is designed to handle a neutrino deluge.

And, with the cooperation of international partners, PIP-II is designed to deliver it.

SOURCE: Fermilab Frontiers, Fermilab website