By Bob Kephart, Director of the Illinois Accelerator Research Center at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill.
More than 30,000 particle accelerators are in operation worldwide. Unseen by most of us they quietly implant ions in the microchips of cell phones and computers, destroy cancer tumors, create medical isotopes, fabricate car and airplane components, develop new drugs, and discover the secrets of the universe.
Since the start of the laboratory in 1967, we have worked closely with industry to develop technologies for new particle accelerators. Fermilab’s need for vast quantities of superconducting wire in the late 1970s kick-started a new industry and enabled the mass construction of the powerful magnets that are necessary for medical MRIs. Our Institute for Neutron Therapy, operated by Northern Illinois University, has treated more than 3,000 cancer patients. We built the first hospital-based accelerator for proton therapy in the United States. Our scientists’ need to collect, analyze and distribute large quantities of data have helped drive the development of advanced computing and computer networking.
Continuing our commitment to developing innovative particle accelerators and applying them to society’s challenges, we’re building the Illinois Accelerator Research Center (IARC). Built as a partnership between the State of Illinois’ Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the U.S. Department of Energy, IARC will enable scientists and engineers from Fermilab, Argonne National Laboratory and Illinois universities to work side by side with industrial partners to translate developments in accelerator science and technology into new applications and products for the nation’s health, wealth and security. Located on the Fermilab campus in Batavia, Ill., this 83,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will provide technical infrastructure as well as office and educational space to support the development of cutting-edge accelerator technologies. In addition to attracting new industry partners to create high-tech jobs, the center will also collaborate with local universities to train a new generation of scientists, engineers and technical staff in accelerator technology. These partnerships will make critical contributions to the technological and economic health of Illinois and place the state in a position to become the world leader in accelerator research, development and industrialization. Fermilab, owned and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, has an annual budget of about $400 million. Yet our economic impact on the state of Illinois exceeded $670 million in 2010, according to a study conducted by the University of Chicago. We employ 1,700 people and collaborate with scientists at 200 institutions in 35 countries. Through our research, we are bringing the world to Illinois and our innovations to the world. Did You Know? Source: National Science Foundation. Higher Education Research and Development Series (HERDS) Particle physics research at Illinois’ two national laboratories – Fermilab and Argonne – is conducted in conjunction with physical sciences research (astronomy, physics, and chemistry) at Illinois’ top research universities. University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Northwestern University, and Northern Illinois University work closely with Fermilab and Argonne to capture federal funding and advance basic science. Thanks to this close knit network of national laboratories and research universities, in FY 2009 (latest data available) Illinois’ institutions of higher education spent close to $200 million on R&D in the physical sciences. This places Illinois among the top five states in physical sciences research. Illinois also boasts the third highest share of a state’s R&D expenditure going to the physical sciences among the top five states, with 8.7% of the total academic R&D expenditure going to the physical sciences.
Watch and Listen:
- Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
- Illinois Accelerator Research Center
- Accelerator applications
- The Department of Energy explains the invaluable applications of accelerator-enabled particle physics research
- Fermilab prepares for new discoveries in particle physics
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