Nurturing links with industry for results in scientific research

3 February 2021

Professor Philip Burrows wiht CLIC prototype structure at TMD Technologies

Professor Philip Burrows has been working with UK company TMD Technologies to design key elements of a next-generation electron-positron collider at CERN. Professor Burrows leads the Compact Linear Collider (CLIC) Collaboration which is preparing the design of the collider that could serve as a ‘factory’ for mass-producing Higgs bosons. Such a Higgs factory has been identified by the global particle physics community as its top priority for a next-generation subatomic particle collider facility.

Pushing the boundaries of technology

‘Our research in accelerator science is dependent on pushing the boundaries of technology and so it is essential to develop strong links with industry,’ explains Professor Burrows who is also Director of the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science, a centre of excellence for advanced and novel accelerator technology that sits within the Department of Physics. ‘It is wonderful to have a UK SME take a lead in developing advanced technology for particle accelerator systems. The technologies TMD is helping to perfect for CLIC have potential applications to many other accelerator-based solutions to societal challenges, not least beam therapy systems for cancer treatment.’

The key elements of the CLIC design are the accelerating structures, which need to produce an electric-field gradient of up to 100 million volts per metre in order to accelerate the electrons and positrons to high energies within the shortest distance possible. More than 10,000 structures are required to reach a Higgs Factory collision energy of 380 GeV within a total beamline length of about 7 km.

Great strides for linear colliders

In 2020, Professor Burrows’ research group made great strides in developing key technologies for linear colliders such as CLIC with three DPhil students in his group completing their theses: Jan Paszkiewicz on the modelling of factors that limit the electric-field gradients achievable; Chetan Gohil on studies of dynamic imperfections that limit the collider performance (‘luminosity’); and Pierre Korysko on the development of beam-control methods to compensate for these imperfections.’

‘Close collaboration with industry partners underpins our work at all levels including our graduate students,’ concludes Professor Burrows. ‘There is enormous mutual benefit to having a student contribute to cutting-edge project work within industry and it is something that we actively encourage. Over the last few years, the Science and Technology Facilities Council has provided support for 5 of our DPhil students through its industrial CASE (Cooperative Awards in Science & Technology) studentships that promote knowledge transfer between academic research and industry – three of which have been with TMD.’

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