Experts join hands to speed up delayed installation of home-grown heavy ion accelerator

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : August 25, 2021, 15:02 | Updated : August 25, 2021, 15:02

[Courtesy of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute]

SEOUL -- South Korean experts in ion accelerators joined hands to speed up the delayed installation of a home-grown heavy ion particle accelerator in a state-sponsored project to build a research facility that ionizes and accelerates heavy elements such as uranium to collide with target materials, creating new rare isotopes that do not exist naturally.

RAON is a particle physics laboratory being constructed in the outskirts of Daejeon by the state-run Institute for Basic Science (IBS). It was expected to be finished by 2021 before getting pushed back to 2025 mainly due to the delayed construction of a single-spoke-resonator (SSR) type superconducting accelerator that forms a strong electric field inside a vacuum tube without electrical resistance to accelerate heavy ions such as protons and uranium.

The state-run Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) said that its branch, Korea Multi-purpose Accelerator Complex (KOMAC), has dispatched 14 experts to support the development of a superconductive accelerator. KOMAC develops and operates high-power proton accelerators, low-energy ion beam equipment and tandem accelerators.

KOMAC has been involved in the development of a half-wave resonator (HWR) type superconducting accelerator, which is drawing attention as an alternative design for the SSR type because it is easier to manufacture. "The domestic accelerator community should continue to cooperate to successfully build the world's best heavy ion accelerator," KOMAC head Kim Yoo-jong said in a statement on August 25.

The dispatched KOMAC personnel will conduct the performance test of a low-energy superconducting accelerator by the end of December and carry out the alternative design of the high-energy superconducting accelerator with a research lab in Pohang which runs synchrotron radiation facilities.

There are other types of accelerators including a proton accelerator and a heavy-ion accelerator. Cheongju, a city located in the center of South Korea, has been picked to host a next-generation synchrotron radiation accelerator. Synchrotron radiation is the electromagnetic radiation emitted when charged particles are accelerated radially. As the new accelerator emits brighter X-ray lasers than before, researchers can develop medicine to treat specific diseases without damaging healthy tissue and analyze the structure of atomic-scale objects more easily.

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