September 2, 2004
SLAC will continue to play a major role in designing the International Linear Collider, lab director says
The director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center remains "an enthusiastic champion" of the proposed International Linear Collider, despite a recent decision by a scientific panel recommending the adoption of a German technology for the ILC instead of one proposed by SLAC.
The recommendation by a panel of 12 physicists was announced at a meeting of the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA) in Beijing on Aug. 19. The panel spent eight months assessing the two technologies -- conventional room temperature ("warm") technology proposed by SLAC and its Japanese partner KEK, and superconducting ("cold") technology, which operates at near absolute zero, proposed by the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) in Germany. The panel selected DESY's "cold" technology for the ILC.
When built, the proposed collider will be more than 20 miles long and will create high-energy particle collisions between electrons and positrons, their antimatter counterparts. The ILC will allow scientists to conduct experiments focusing on dark matter, dark energy, extra dimensions and the fundamental nature of matter, energy, space and time.
"We are certainly disappointed that our warm technology was not selected," said Jonathan Dorfan, director of SLAC and chair of the ICFA. "However, the high-energy physics worldwide community has taken a huge and necessary step forward by making this selection and has crossed a critical threshold in the realization of the dream that SLAC helped initiate building a frontier energy linear collider."
The panel's selection of DESY's superconducting technology was made after extensive analysis, noted panel chair Barry Barish of the California Institute of Technology.
"Both superconducting and room temperature technologies were viable and mature, and the panel congratulates all the talented and dedicated teams which have worked on the research and development of these technologies for many years," Barish said. "We expect the final design to be developed by a team drawn from the combined warm and cold linear collider communities, taking full advantage of the experience and expertise of both."
SLAC remains "an enthusiastic champion of the accelerator," Dorfan said, adding that 100 full-time employees are working on the proposed linear collider at SLAC.
"For a while, it will not be completely business as usual," he said. "We need time to assess what will be closed out and what will be retained. As the only laboratory to have built a linear collider, we have expertise and experience in most areas critical to the linear collider design. If all goes well, the physics community could have a machine by 2015."
In November, members of the ICFA will meet at the KEK laboratory in Japan to formalize the ILC collaboration and choose a director to oversee the design process and eventually participate in the selection of a country to host the collider.
"This multibillion-dollar machine can only happen if three regions of the world -- North America, Europe and Asia -- come together and pool their human and fiscal resources," Dorfan said, "There are numerous opportunities and a lot of work to do. SLAC is vigorously pursing a plan for our role in this exhilarating venture."