Jean Delayen to Lead Center for Accelerator Science
Draws on World of Experience as an Innovative Physicist

Jean R. Delayen, a principal scientist for the accelerator division of Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and professor of accelerator physics at Old Dominion University, has been named the first director of the Center for Accelerator Science, which was created in 2008 by ODU and Jefferson Lab.

The appointment came after a yearlong search that attracted an international array of candidates.

“We vowed when we started the search to find an internationally prominent director, and we have been successful,” said Chris Platsoucas, dean of the ODU College of Sciences. “When we looked far and wide, we found that the best person for the job was already among us.”

The new director joined Jefferson Lab in 1995 and in 2006 became a Jefferson Lab Professor at ODU with part-time teaching duties. The professorship gave Delayen certain university faculty privileges, such as eligibility for external research grants, which were not available to him as principal scientist at Jefferson Lab.

Prior to coming to Virginia, Delayen worked as a scientist at California Institute of Technology and Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Interspersed with his work in the United States, he has been a visiting researcher and teacher at laboratories and universities in China, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, India, Israel and England. He also serves on a number of international advisory and review committees for accelerator facilities and is a regular teacher at the U.S. Particle Accelerator School.

“Jean brings to the center not only decades of experience and innovation in accelerator physics, but an excellent international reputation,” added Gail Dodge, chair of the ODU Department of Physics. “He is well known as an outstanding teacher, and he is often invited to give lectures around the world.  In addition to building the research portfolio of the center, he will establish a rigorous educational program for undergraduate and graduate students to train the next generation of accelerator scientists.” 

Early Education in Paris

Delayen’s early education was at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Arts et Metiers in Paris, followed by master’s studies in engineering science and doctoral studies in low temperature physics, both at Cal Tech. He received his Ph.D. in 1978. While he was affiliated with Argonne Lab, he earned an M.B.A. degree with honors from the University of Chicago.

In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, which is an exclusive honor bestowed each year upon no more than one-half of 1 percent of the society’s membership.

Research by Delayen in radio-frequency superconductivity and the physics and technology of superconducting linear accelerators has been supported by approximately $5 million in funding, most of it from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Jefferson Lab is a DOE national laboratory.

Delayen is the inventor of several types of accelerating cavities that are being used worldwide in existing accelerators, and will be used in many more that are now being designed. Explained Dodge, “Jean invented both the spoke cavity and the coaxial half-wave resonator, and the large, new nuclear physics accelerator known as FRIB, which was recently announced to be located at Michigan State, will use one, and perhaps both of these designs.”

Dodge said his cavities are particularly useful for accelerating heavier particles such as protons or other ions. “One important aspect of these new cavities is that they enable one to build smaller, more efficient and more powerful accelerators, which may be important for use in hospitals and at universities.”

Hugh Montgomery, the Jefferson Lab director, added, “Jean’s intimate contact with the technology is a major plus for an Accelerator Center director. His involvement promises to be much more than a narrow academic interest.”
ODU and Jefferson Lab have been collaborating for nearly a decade in training the next generation of accelerator scientists. Currently, 10 of these students are pursuing advanced degrees at ODU and working on projects at Jefferson Lab.

Appointment Promotes Collaboration

“With the selection of Jean Delayen, a world-class accelerator scientist, to be the director of the center,” said Andrew Hutton, associate director for accelerators at Jefferson Lab, “ODU has all of the ingredients in place to become a driving force in the research and development of accelerators. I look forward to the opportunity of working with Jean to expand the collaborations between Jefferson Lab and ODU.”

Delayen’s spoke cavity design helped ODU and Jefferson Lab win a $2.8 million grant from DOE earlier this year. He is the principal investigator for the grant, which for ODU will bring about $1.45 million for equipment and salaries.  
Design improvements to particle accelerators have brought Delayen one patent and two others are pending. One of his innovations is the basis for a new and more efficient way to deflect and shape bunches of particles in accelerators. This new electromagnetic structure may be used in the upgrade of Jefferson Lab’s mile-long accelerator and is under consideration for an upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.

ODU and Jefferson Lab have high hopes for the Center for Accelerator Science. The facility – with seven faculty members and 15 graduate students as its target complement – is envisioned as a springboard for innovations.

“Dr. Delayen’s appointment is critical for the success of our plans for the Center for Accelerator Science,” Dean Platsoucas said. “With his guidance and the support of Jefferson Laboratory, we plan to develop a center which, very fast, will be among the best places to study and conduct research in this field. Many potential sources of federal and private grant support exist for accelerator science and we expect the faculty in the center to be very successful in attracting external funding.”

Much of the center’s focus will be on the linear accelerator format and superconducting radiofrequency (SRF) particle-acceleration technology that is used by Jefferson Lab’s continuous electron beam accelerator facility (CEBAF) and its free-electron laser (FEL).

The electron beams travel at near the speed of light through superconducting cavities that are cooled to near absolute zero by liquid helium. Jefferson Lab has the world’s largest helium liquefier.

CEBAF illustrates how such a large and powerful instrument depends upon the flawless coordination of a lot of little interactions. This must be accomplished by a maze of cavities, pipes and wires that are put together in just the right way from just the right raw materials. Delayen likes to say that his specialty is “anything having to do with superconducting accelerators, from physics to engineering to management.”

Particle accelerators can probe the nature of matter, as does the Jefferson Lab atom smasher, but the same technology is being used in diverse and rapidly growing fields, many of them related to medicine. Radiation treatment and radiation imaging instruments use accelerator technology. According to the DOE, about 10,000 patients are treated every day in this country with electron beams from linear accelerators.

Center Promises Some Surprises

There are also industrial and other scientific uses. Ion beams from accelerators create nanotubes and semiconductor chips, and can test or fashion other industrial materials. Accelerators also now are being used for nondestructive dating of archaeological samples. There are plans for beams from accelerators to be used one day for homeland security, for example, to scan shipping containers.

Delayen said in an interview that the center will help advance technology along lines already in use, but can be expected, as well, to produce some surprises. University-based centers encourage long-range, outside-the-box thinking that is not possible at research laboratories such as the DOE’s Argonne or Jefferson complexes, he explained. These facilities have heavy work schedules that require the use of proven technologies. “At Jefferson Lab we are looking
four or five years down the road and you really need to focus on 20 years. In accelerator science, we may be nearing the end of what can be done with conventional technology. The next step may require something really new, and exotic projects are best for universities to implement.”

Only a handful of universities in the United States have programs devoted to accelerator science. These include Cornell, Maryland, Michigan State, Stanford, UCLA and Louisiana State—the only one in the South that was established ahead of ODU’s.

ODU expects its external support for research will get a substantial boost not only from the work of the center’s physicists, but also from complementary work by chemists, mathematicians, computer scientists, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers. “Accelerator science is a very interdisciplinary field,” Platsoucas said. “We look forward to building collaborations with faculty around campus, as well as at other universities.”

Research done at the center also could play a role in the development of the next-generation light source that the DOE has on the drawing board. Jefferson Lab’s free-electron laser has the distinction of being the SRF light source with the world’s highest average-power, wavelength-tunable laser light. This SRF technology seems certain to be used in the new, more powerful light-source facility, which is projected to cost $1 billion.

The center will be an especially valuable resource to Jefferson Lab at a time when it has undertaken the $310 million upgrade to double the energy of the lab’s CEBAF. A planning document for the center looks forward to collaborations between scientists and engineers at the two institutions not only in accelerator and particle physics, but also in electrical engineering, control systems, materials and lasers.

Core members of the new center will include three full-time faculty members in the ODU Department of Physics, Professor Lepsha Vuskovic, Assistant Professor Alexander Godunov and Research Professor Svetozar Popovic. In addition, the two remaining Jefferson Lab Professors in accelerator physics, Geoffrey Krafft and Hari Areti, will be members of the center. Affiliated faculty will retain their full-time tenure-track appointments in their home ODU academic departments.

Delayen’s elevation to full professor with tenure at ODU came in conjunction with his appointment as director of the center. The Jefferson Lab will pay half of Delayen’s salary as center director.


Quest Winter 2010 • Volume 12 Issue 2