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Ultra-High Accelerating Gradients in Radio-Frequency Cryogenic Copper Structures

  • Cahill, Alexander
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2017
eScholarship - University of California
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Normal conducting radio-frequency (rf) particle accelerators have many applications, including colliders for high energy physics, high-intensity synchrotron light sources, non-destructive testing for security, and medical radiation therapy. In these applications, the accelerating gradient is an important parameter. Specifically for high energy physics, increasing the accelerating gradient extends the potential energy reach and is viewed as a way to mitigate their considerable cost. Furthermore, a gradient increase will enable for more compact and thus accessible free electron lasers (FELs). The major factor limiting larger accelerating gradients is vacuum rf breakdown. Basic physics of this phenomenon has been extensively studied over the last few decades. During which, the occurrence of rf breakdowns was shown to be probabilistic, and can be characterized by a breakdown rate.The current consensus is that vacuum rf breakdowns are caused by movements of crystal defects induced by periodic mechanical stress. The stress may be caused by pulsed surface heating and large electric fields. A compelling piece of evidence that supports this hypothesis is that accelerating structures constructed from harder materials exhibit larger accelerating gradients for similar breakdown rates. One possible method to increase sustained electric fields in copper cavities is to cool them to temperatures below 77~K, where the rf surface resistance and coefficient of thermal expansion decrease, while the yield strength (which correlates with hardness) and thermal conductivity increase. These changes in material properties at low temperature increases metal hardness and decreases the mechanical stress from exposure to rf electromagnetic fields. To test the validity of the improvement in breakdown rate, experiments were conducted with cryogenic accelerating cavities in the Accelerator Structure Test Area (ASTA) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. A short 11.4~GHz standing wave accelerating structure was conditioned to an accelerating gradient of 250~MV/m at 45~K with $10^8$ rf pulses. At gradients greater than 150~MV/m I observed a degradation in the intrinsic quality factor of the cavity, $Q_0$. I developed a model for the change in $Q_0$ using measured field emission currents and rf signals. I found that the $Q_0$ degradation is consistent with the rf power being absorbed by strong field emission currents accelerated inside the cavity. I measured rf breakdown rates for 45~K and found $2*10^{-4}/pulse/meter$ when accounting for any change in $Q_0$. These are the largest accelerating gradients for a structure with similar breakdown rates.The final chapter presents the design of an rf photoinjector electron source that uses the cryogenic normal conducting accelerator technology: the TOPGUN. With this cryogenic rf photoinjector, the beam brightness will increase by over an order of a magnitude when compared to the current photoinjector for the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). When using the TOPGUN as the source for an X-ray Free Electron Laser, the higher brightness would allow for a decrease in the required length of the LCLS undulator by more than a factor of two.

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