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Accelerator Science Center Director Gets Achievement Award in Accelerator Physics

Jean Delayen

Jean Delayen, director of the Center for Accelerator Science (CAS) that Old Dominion University operates in partnership with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, has been awarded the United States Particle Accelerator School (USPAS) Prize for Achievement in Accelerator Physics.

The ODU professor of physics was cited by USPAS "for conceiving and developing a variety of superconducting accelerating structures and for his work with young scientists in USPAS and elsewhere." He will receive one of two prizes given by USPAS for 2011; the other is for achievement in accelerator physics by a scientist under 45 years of age. USPAS confers the two prizes every two years, and each prize comes with an award of $3,000.

"Warmest congratulations go to Professor Delayen," said Chris Platsoucas, the ODU College of Sciences dean who was instrumental in recruiting Delayen to be founding director of CAS in 2009. "This prize comes in recognition of his considerable accomplishments as a researcher and teacher, and it reflects well on our Center for Accelerator Science."

Gail Dodge, a nuclear physicist and chair of the ODU Department of Physics, added: "Jean has been extremely active in educating the next generation of accelerator scientists. He is working hard to make sure that the Center for Accelerator Science provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to enter this exciting and growing field. We are thrilled that he has been selected for this important and well-deserved honor."

Delayen, who has several accelerator inventions to his credit, has been recently awarded a major research grant from the Department of Energy. He also has been chosen five times to be an instructor for USPAS, which is held for two weeks twice a year, in January and June. The January school this year was held in Hampton, with ODU as the host university.

There is growing interest in the science and technology behind instruments that accelerate particles up to nearly the speed of light. Most of the world's most powerful accelerators, such as Jefferson Lab's mile-long, circular atom smasher, were built to explore the makeup and structure of matter. In other words, their aim is fundamental science - to discover the secrets of the universe. But accelerator technology also is used in medical imaging and in beam therapies to fight cancer and other diseases.

The door has opened more recently to an even broader array of uses, which are described in detail in the DOE report "Accelerators for America's Future," released in 2010. "A beam of the right particles with the right energy at the right intensity can shrink a tumor, produce cleaner energy, spot suspicious cargo, make a better radial tire, clean up dirty drinking water, map a protein, study a nuclear explosion, design a new drug, make a heat-resistant automotive cable, diagnose a disease, reduce nuclear waste, detect an art forgery, implant ions in a semiconductor, prospect for oil, date an archaeological find, package a Thanksgiving turkey or discover the secrets of the universe," the report states.

It was the increasing demand for accelerator scientists that led ODU's College of Sciences and Jefferson Lab to form the CAS in 2008.

Delayen was principal scientist for the accelerator division of Jefferson Lab and with a secondary appointment at ODU before being appointed as the CAS director and tenured professor of physics at ODU on a fulltime basis. He was educated in his native France and at Cal Tech, and has been a visiting researcher and teacher in China, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, India, Israel and England. Prior to coming to Virginia, Delayen worked as a scientist at Cal Tech and Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

The research money CAS has pulled in so far can be traced largely to Delayen's inventions, including a "spoke" cavity technology that seems to be well suited for modern applications of particle accelerators. Accelerators are studded with cavities that ramp up the speed of particle beams and focus their intensity with pushes and pulls from electromagnetic energy. Multispoke cavities have been shown to excel at accelerating and manipulating heavier particles such as protons, at the same time being more compact and more reliable than conventional cavities. In general, the spoke cavities lend themselves to the downsizing trend that many experts believe must happen in order for accelerator use to continue to grow.

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 has been considered for use in an upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.

Core members of the CAS 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, two Jefferson Lab professors in accelerator physics, Geoffrey Krafft and Hari Areti, are affiliated with the center. Mileta Tomovic, professor and chair of the Department of Engineering Technology, is among faculty members of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology who have been collaborating with the center.

Dodge noted that accelerator science is inherently interdisciplinary, involving not only physics and engineering, but also math, chemistry, computer science and modeling and simulation.

This article was posted on: February 15, 2011

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