Uncover The Exciting World Of Particle Accelerator Engineering With The Head Of Daresbury Labs…

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Susan Smith heads up Daresbury Laboratory, a scientific research lab that’s part of SciTech Daresbury. This is a science and innovation campus that helps to ensure research undertaken here by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) attracts new business and supports existing ones. 

Susan started working at Daresbury as a particle accelerator physicist straight out of at university. 

“I came in just as the lab was preparing for a significant facility update,” she says. “I was involved in areas including writing and developing software to simulate the upgraded accelerator, measuring and analysing electromagnets to be installed in the new facility and most excitingly, commissioning and understanding the operation of the accelerator,” she says. 

“I went on to design and implement simulation and operational software on the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS). I like to think that I played my small part in enabling the two Nobel prizes that have been awarded for work that included research carried out on the SRS facility,” she smiles. 

‘Big science’

To understand what Daresbury Laboratory does, Susan says you need to think of ‘big science’. “The sort of science and technology research that’s too big for a single university to do, or for that matter in some cases a single country or continent!

“We’re talking about forefront facilities like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, or our UK national facilities like the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source or the Central Laser Facility. At Daresbury we do the science, engineering and technology developments supporting big science deliveries and our technologies range from advanced accelerators to specialist detectors. With such science comes big data and complex computational simulations, and that’s another key strength at Daresbury,” she notes.

Latest projects

The lab is currently involved in several exciting projects, including building a unique free electron test facility named CLARA. This will support the delivery of a future free electron laser facility that will enable scientists to probe matter at a molecular and atomic level with fantastic spatial resolution, but on a timescale that allows movies to be taken of the processes involved. 

“One recent experiment in the US was able to show how the movement of a single electron provoked by VUV light produced a sunscreen like protection to skin,” Susan highlights.
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International collaboration

Daresbury is also contributing to the European Spallation Source in Sweden, where it is leading the production and testing of the superconducting radiofrequency cavities that make up the final and largest acceleration stage. 

“It’s a technology capability that the Accelerator Science and Technology Centre at Daresbury were instrumental in developing within the UK,” Susan notes. 

Susan will be a key speaker at the IET’s upcoming Particle Accelerator Engineering Network Annual Event, where she says delegates will get a window into the range of areas accelerator research is impacting.

Discover how multidisciplinary engineering underpins this sector

“Attendees will get to hear about the challenges involved in developing and delivering some of the broad range of engineering technologies that are crucial to accelerators and their operation,” she highlights. 

“In particular there will be a range of speakers who have decided that accelerator engineering is an exciting and fulfilling career. By coming along you’ll get the opportunity to see how a range of multidisciplinary engineering underpins accelerators delivering in areas from health to high energy physics".
Posted by Carl Resch on Oct 20, 2017 8:53 AM Europe/London

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