The Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has started phase II of the construction of a pioneering facility to advance a technology that will be critical to the next generation of particle accelerators.
The new facility, which will occupy three buildings and host a 460-foot-long test accelerator, will be the first of its kind in the United States.
Fermilab is using $52.7-million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to advance its Superconducting Radio-Frequency R&D program, which includes the construction of the SRF Accelerator Test Facility. Phase I of the construction began in March 2010 with the $2.8 million expansion of an existing building. For phase II, the laboratory has awarded a $4.2 million contract for the construction of two new buildings.
Additional ARRA funds will go toward equipment and infrastructure needed for the building's operation. Fermilab will use the facility to test superconducting radio-frequency components and validate the manufacturing capability of vendors from U.S. industry.
''Our future is going to involve accelerators that use superconducting radio-frequency technology,'' said Jay Theilacker of Fermilab's Accelerator Division. ''Building this new SRF test facility is an important step forward.''
The structures operate inside containers known as cryomodules, which chill the cavities to -456 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature where they can conduct electric current without electrical resistance-hence the term ''superconducting.''