Research & Development

In addition to ARDAP’s accelerator technology Production mission, ARDAP has an accelerator R&D mission to address cross-cutting and use-inspired R&D needs and to help coordinate the accelerator R&D that is undertaken across the Office of Science. The R&D coordination mission is facilitated through the Office of Science Accelerator Joint Oversight Group.

The initial element of ARDAP’s R&D program is the long-established Accelerator Stewardship program which focuses on basic R&D at low technology readiness levels (TRLs), ranging from TRL-1 up to TRL-4.

Impact and Benefits of Accelerator Research

In 2021 the Office of Science (SC) operated 27 National User Facilities that supported more than 32,500 scientific users. Half of these Facilities (14 of 27) have a particle accelerator as the primary instrument, providing particles and radiation of unmatched quality that in 2021 served more than 13,600 scientists (42% of the SC users). Many of the world’s leading researchers come to SC facilities because they are the best, bringing knowledge and ideas that significantly enhance U.S. science and create high technology jobs. This situation is changing, with competing off-shore accelerator-based facilities drawing away scientific and technical talent. Keeping the accelerator-based SC facilities at the forefront requires continued, transformative advances in accelerator science and technology, as well as a workforce able to perform leading research and put it into practice. 

While Office of Science accelerator facility construction and operations costs have increased over the last decade, accelerator R&D in the Office of Science has decreased significantly, both in absolute and relative terms. As a result, the US has lost leading accelerator scientists and key technology vendors. These losses have increased the risk of successfully developing and operating future high-priority Office of Science and other Government accelerator facilities. 

In addition to being the core of large science facilities, accelerators also have important industrial, medical, and national security uses. Industrial applications of accelerators include ion implantation, electron beam processing, electron beam irradiation, ion beam analysis, and non-destructive testing. Medical applications include cancer therapy and radioisotope production. National security applications include cargo inspection and special nuclear material detection from Bremsstrahlung radiation, nuclear resonance fluorescence, and neutron generation.

ARDAP’s accelerator R&D program works with the other Office of Science programs to discover and develop new accelerator technologies for future generations of scientific facilities, and to help transition these technologies into a broad range of applications that benefit society.