Argonne's pioneering user facility to add magic number factory

Credit: NASA images

One of the big questions in physics and chemistry is, how were the heavy elements from iron to uranium created? The Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is being upgraded with new capabilities to help find the answer to that question and many others.

Of five DOE Office of Science user facilities at Argonne, ATLAS is the longest lived. “Inaugurated in 1978, ATLAS is ever changing and developing new technological advances and responding to emerging research opportunities,” says ATLAS director Guy Savard. It is now being outfitted with an “N = 126 factory,” scheduled to go online later this year. This new capability will soon be producing beams of heavy atomic nuclei consisting of 126 neutrons. This is made possible, in part, by the addition of a cooler-buncher that cools the…

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