Electron accelerator in student hands

Electron accelerator in student hands

Particle rays being produced in a polarised electron source for experiments. Image: TU Darmstadt
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Particle rays being produced in a polarised electron source for experiments. Image: TU Darmstadt

S-DALINAC is in a state of perpetual productive unrest. Students design new elements, simulate their properties, calibrate new prototypes, install them on the accelerator, test if they work and optimise them for practical use – an exciting learning process in the interdisciplinary world of accelerator physics and technology.

Students learn skills in computer-based design, vacuum and high frequency technology, various areas of physical measuring techniques and automatic control engineering, as well as information technology. Working with the electron accelerator, students assume responsibility in a demanding field of research and technology.

Students develop high-tech independently

High-tech is hiding under a green hill at TU Darmstadt’s Department of Physics: S-DALINAC, the Superconducting Darmstadt Electron Linear Accelerator. In a hall as big as a basketball court electron beams are accelerated almost to the speed of light. And the special thing is that the facility, at a temperature of -271°C, is largely developed and operated by students.

Superconducting accelerator components are particularly good for accelerating a homogenous electron beam.

That is exactly what is needed for the reactions investigated using S-DALINAC. The experiments map, for example, the forces between the components of atomic nuclei and nuclear processes that occur in stars and stellar explosions.