« Back

Accelerator Physics

An accelerator physics track is expected to start in the Fall 2012 within the Physics Department. Accelerators are used in many areas in which our faculty is heavily involved: nuclear/high energy physics [Jefferson Lab ( for medium energy physics research since the late 80s, Fermilab ( for neutrino experiments since the early 2000s and more recently Brookhaven National Lab (], medical physics [hospitals based x-ray machines are small scale accelerators and cyclotrons are used for proton therapy such as the one housed at HUPTI (], and radiation biology [NASA has a long-lasting space radiation program that primarily utilizes their facility at Brookhaven National Lab jointly sponsored by DoE; NASA Langley  ( recently started a validation program of their codes with our faculty that will require dedicated measurements of data utilizing a low energy accelerator). This effort will also be linked to an accelerator-based experiment expected to run at Jefferson Lab in the Spring 2012 that received the highest recommendation (A-rating) from that laboratory (

One of the old thermo-ionic guns of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at Jefferson Lab is in the process of being transferred to Hampton University to primarily serve as an educational tool in accelerator physics. This gun is a DC source that can generate electrons with kinetic energies up to 100 keV and has a total estimated value of about $200k. In the mid- to long-term goal, this gun will be expanded to a Low Energy LInear Accelerator (LELIA) capable of accelerating electrons up to a maximum of 500 keV within the next 2 years. To achieve this, a radio frequency (RF) system must be designed and its conception will be based on the CEBAF injector following a two-step approach: (1) construct a two-stage bunching mechanism (pre-buncher and buncher) to produce the beam bunches, and (2) develop a “small” accelerating section to bring the beam to 0.5 MeV using a capture (warm) RF cavity. External funding will be pursued to leverage this donation, along with establishing new collaborations with other institutions such us Old Dominion University (, which has a graduate program in accelerator physics), George Washington University (http://wwww.gwu.du, which is in the process of developing a complementary program to Hampton University but with a focus on photo-ionic guns), the University of Pennsylvania (, that also has a cyclotron) and Yale University (, that has a Van De Graaf accelerator) amongst others.

The training of students is expected to span across various areas such as simulation of the beam properties along the beamline, understanding vacuum and ultra-high vacuum, optimizing materials from which electrons are produced, measuring scattering of electrons with various biological and non-biological targets, developing dedicated diagnostic and visualization software tools, etc. The proportion of African-American students in Accelerator Physics is far less than 1% and the program is expected to make a major impact in this area.

News - Updated Mar. 07, 2014

  • The thermionic gun was assembled on the girder oin December 2013
  • A Memorandum of Understanding between Hampton University and the Accelerator Division at Jefferson Lab was signed on February 21, 2014 to expand the existing MOU with the Physics Division at Jefferson Lab. This amendement will provide supports for graduate students and undergraduate students to work in the field of Accelerator Physics.