Accelerators are one of the cornerstones of the scientific enterprise. From biology to medicine, from materials to metallurgy, from the fundamental structure of matter to the cosmos, accelerators provide the microscopic information that forms the basis for scientific understanding and application. Many future plans for science in this country involve construction of novel particle accelerators. For example, the Department of Energy twenty-year plan, “Facilities for the Future of Science: A Twenty-Year Outlook”, which maps the future of major new facilities in the United States for basic research, depends upon progress and breakthroughs in accelerator science and technology.

A new MIT Center for Accelerator Science and Technology (CAST) is under development and initial funding from the United States Department of Energy Office of Science will be requested. CAST will include many departments across the Schools of Science and Engineering at MIT with the primary purpose of conducting frontier research in accelerator science and technology. The proposed research at CAST involves both developing new types of accelerators for fundamental scientific research as well as applying accelerators to address issues of high national priority. In addition, CAST will develop a strong program to educate young people at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels using 'hands on' instruction at the existing suite of powerful particle accelerators at MIT, among the best at any university in the country. Strong collaboration of mutual benefit with scientists from other laboratories is an essential aspect of CAST. An accelerator R&D center with physicists and engineers working closely together at a major research university would both significantly strengthen the national effort in accelerator science and enhance the research portfolio of MIT.

The research and educational programs at CAST will be led by faculty in the Departments of Physics, Nuclear Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Chemistry. In addition, senior researchers in the Laboratory for Nuclear Science and the Plasma Science and Fusion Center are playing a central role. CAST will be based at the Cambridge campus of MIT with the Bates site providing a laboratory focus for major projects and advanced accelerator R&D. The initial CAST research program is principally concentrated in two distinct but technically complementary areas:

• The development of new charged particle sources and advanced accelerator techniques required for the study of the fundamental structure of matter. The proposed research is directly relevant to the ongoing and future programs at both the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF). In the longer term, the proposed research will have bearing on the design and construction of the Next Linear Collider (NLC).
• Research on high brightness photoinjector and related beam physics required for the next generation of light sources. The proposed research is directly relevant to several major facilities which are scheduled for construction, e.g. the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) and the European X-ray Laser.

In each of these two areas of research, MIT scientists have recently made important contributions and are playing a leadership role. Once CAST is realized, it will be essential to broaden the research program to include significant efforts in other important areas, e.g. High Energy Physics and Fusion Energy Sciences. A central and unique aspect of CAST will be interdisciplinary research; the recent collaboration between Bates accelerator physicists and members of the Optics and Quantum Electronics Group in the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering on laser seeding of an X-ray laser is a good example of this.

Education will be a primary mission of the Center. MIT attracts some of the very best students in the world and has a long tradition of departmental and interdisciplinary programs. CAST will draw upon faculty across the Schools of Science and Engineering to organize and teach a core curriculum, and would aim to support 15-20 graduate students (3-4 Ph.D.s per year). In addition, CAST will aim to actively involve undergraduate students in the research program. Hands-on instruction using the Bates accelerator and other MIT facilities will be an essential aspect of the CAST educational curriculum. With CAST, MIT will make a significant contribution (about 3-4 Ph.D.s per year) to the national pool of young accelerator scientists and engineers, since the number of students graduating in this discipline is quite small nationally (about 5-10 Ph.D.s per year).

The Bates accelerator complex is a central element in CAST. In the last fifteen years, over $50 million has been invested in completely refurbishing the linear accelerator, in construction of a state-of-the-art 1 GeV storage ring which is delivering a highly intense polarized electron beam for nuclear physics research, and in a modern control system which allows operation of the entire accelerator complex by a single person. With reasonable support and a careful transition from nuclear physics user facility to CAST, the Bates accelerator complex has a lifetime of several decades. Nationally, there is a scarcity of particle beams available for accelerator R&D. CAST will make available test beams at Bates for accelerator R&D, education and detector development.

Particle accelerators are an essential part of the nation’s technical infrastructure for health care, for industry and for national security. CAST can provide a unique catalyst for R&D using accelerators in the Boston area where medical institutions and high technology companies abound. We envision a future that includes broad application of accelerator technology within CAST. For example a collaborative effort between CAST and Massachusetts General Hospital to study the ability of ion beams to treat cancer tumors is being explored and the development of compact particle accelerators for cargo screening in the interests of national security are being proposed. We have begun discussions with private industry (L-3 Communications) on developing accelerator technology in this area, and expect to continue MIT’s strong history of collaboration with the private sector.

CAST will be an MIT Center with its headquarters at the Cambridge campus. The Director will be an MIT faculty member from either the School of Science or Engineering who will report to the MIT Vice President for Research. CAST is proposed by faculty and scientists active in the research areas of Nuclear Physics, High Energy Physics, Fusion Energy Sciences and Basic Energy Sciences. Eight MIT faculty and three MIT Senior Research Scientists are committed to providing the necessary leadership to initiate the CAST research and educational programs. The educational curriculum will be overseen by a committee of MIT faculty and research scientists who will report to the CAST Director.

The Office of Science Occasional Paper ‘Accelerator Technology for the Nation’ eloquently makes the case for a new national initiative in accelerator research and development. CAST directly addresses the critical areas identified in this important paper:

• CAST proposed research will directly improve the capabilities and operational performance at existing accelerators such as CEBAF and RHIC
• CAST will create new, powerful collaborations between scientists and engineers at MIT and those at the national laboratories
• CAST will provide unique educational opportunities and open up a new talent pool for accelerator science and technology
• CAST will carry out advanced accelerator research which is critically important for the long-term viability of accelerator-based science.