Accelerator Test Facility (ATF)

Users setting up their experimental apparatus for research involving terahertz radiation and dielectric structures.

The Accelerator Test Facility (ATF) provides users with high power lasers synchronized with high brightness electron beams, providing a testbed for exploring the science of particle acceleration and radiation generation, and for developing new accelerator technologies.
Long Island, New York Location
1992 Start of Operations
87 (FY 2022) Number of Users


The Accelerator Test Facility (ATF) at Brookhaven National Laboratory provides high brightness low-energy electron beams (to 80 MeV) and precisely timed high power laser beams (to 2 TW at CO2 wavelengths) to users. Serving users for more than 20 years, the ATF has hosted experiments that have demonstrated new particle generation and acceleration techniques, novel radiation production methods, and a range of accelerator technologies that support many applications in discovery science, industry, and medicine.

The ATF’s high-power CO2 laser provides users access to the yet-unexplored mid-IR spectral domain for strong-field physics research. Together with precisely synchronized electron beams and a suite of diagnostic instruments, the ATF offers exceptional facilities for strong field and laser-matter interaction experiments.


The ATF hosts users from universities, labs and industry from across the world. Researchers use the unique facilities that the ATF offers to perform a wide range of experiments to validate scientific theory and test new accelerator technologies. As a dedicated DOE Office of Science Accelerator Stewardship facility, the ATF welcomes both high impact scientific research and accelerator technology development.  The ATF has specialized capabilities in the following areas:

  • Novel particle acceleration techniques: R&D on novel techniques to make smaller, more cost effective accelerators is a major focus of ATF activity, which includes plasma and dielectric wakefield acceleration, direct laser acceleration, inverse free-electron lasers and more.
  • High-brightness radiation sources: New techniques to produce electromagnetic radiation from THz to X-rays includes R&D on FELs, Inverse Compton scattering, THz radiation from dielectric structures, and more.
  • Beam manipulation and beam instrumentation: The ATF accelerator has sophisticated longitudinal and transverse beam manipulation capabilities, allowing the production of a wide range of beam parameters (including shaped and multiple bunches) and advanced techniques such as shot-noise suppression and energy chirp compensation. These broad capabilities support a wide range of users who come to test accelerator hardware, diagnostics, and detectors.
  • Ion generation and acceleration: Experimental hardware for producing supersonic hydrogen gas jets provides capabilities for generating monoenergetic multi-MeV proton beams.