The DOE Office of Science facility will produce the world's most intense neutron beams to probe the molecular structures of materials. As a user facility, the SNS is expected to attract researchers from all over the globe.
"The ring is the last major accelerator element delivered by one of the partner labs in the six-laboratory project," said SNS Director Thom Mason. "Its successful operation confirms not just the robustness of the Brookhaven National Laboratory components but also the full integration of accelerator hardware designed and built using expertise throughout the national DOE complex. We are looking forward to the first beam on target later this year."
Brookhaven Lab led the design and construction of the accumulator ring, which will allow an order of magnitude more beam power than any other facility in the world.
In SNS operation, the superconducting linac produces proton pulses traveling at almost 90 percent of the speed of light. In the ring, the protons within a pulse are "accumulated" to increase the intensity 1,000-fold. At that point, this now very intense pulse is extracted and delivered to the mercury target to produce neutrons. This happens 60 times per second.
After only three days of its initial operation, the ring accumulated protons, which were then extracted and sent to a point just short of the target.
"With this extraordinary success, we are definitely on our way to operate the world's highest intensity proton accelerator," said SNS Accelerator Systems Division Director Norbert Holtkamp.