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Research at LEPP

cavity.jpg Accelerator Physics:LEPP accelerator physicists are extending the capabilities of accelerators in particle physics and X-ray science.
cms_event.jpg Particle physics at the energy frontier: The Large Hadron Collider and the International Linear Collider will explore nature at unparalleled energies.
aerial.jpg CESR and CLEO and the physics of heavy quarks: Cornell University is home to the Cornell Electron Storage Ring and the CLEO particle detector.

Accelerator Research

LEPP physicists use the Cornell Electron Storage Ring Test Accelerator (CesrTA) to study beam dynamics and instabilities. CesrTA is similar in many ways to the damping rings of the proposed International Linear Collider (ILC), and what is learned at CesrTA is likely to have direct bearing on ILC design. This research builds on many years of operation of CESR for particle physics, and numerous innovations in accelerator physics that made CESR's performance the best ever achieved among accelerators at its energy.

LEPP is also developing a new type of accelerator known as the Energy Recovery Linac (ERL), which will provide intense beams of x-rays to scientists studying the physics at atomic and molecular scales, including biologists, geologists, and medical scientists.

LEPP also develops technology for accelerating particle beams using devices known as Superconducting RF (SRF) cavities. These are large devices in which a standing electromagnetic wave is established, similar to a sound wave in a pipe organ. The electric field in the cavity accelerates the passing beam. The use of superconducting cavities increases efficiency and reduces disruption of the beam. SRF cavities provide the basis for many accelerators, including both the ILC and the ERL.

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Particle physics at the Energy Frontier

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is sited at the CERN Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, collides proton beams at energies beyond those of any previous accelerator. These collisions will give the first glimpse of the physics at the TeV energy-scale. Physicists believe that TeV energies hold the answer to why electromagnetism is so powerful compared with its unification partner, the weak force. The TeV energy scale may also reveal broad new vistas of physics -- perhaps new forms of matter or forces that we have never seen before. LEPP physicists are contributing to the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector, one of two enormous detectors that view the collisions at the LHC. They are also engaged in exploring this physics theoretically.

The LHC program will last a decade or more. The International Linear Collider (ILC) is another proposed accelerator that would explore the same energy range, but with the precision that is attainable only by colliding beams of electrons and positrons (anti-electrons). The ILC will be instrumental in understanding the TeV-energy scale phenomena. It might tell us, for example, whether new particles signal the discovery of supersymmetry or new dimensions of space and time. The ILC may also help explain the mysterious dark matter in the universe. LEPP physicists are deeply involved in the design of the ILC accelerator and in developing the technology for detectors capable of meeting the demands of the ILC. More on the science of the LHC and ILC.

We know now that the physics of the very small often governs the behavior of the very large: particle physics is inextricably linked to the physics of the universe itself. LEPP theorists approach this from both sides. Some are studying the physics that might be revealed at the TeV-energy scale, while others explore the physics of stars, gravity, and the links between string theory and the early expansion of the universe.

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CESR and CLEO and the Physics of Heavy Quarks

From 1979 to 2008 CESR collided electron and positron beams, producing a spray of particle observed by the CLEO detector. Together, CESR and CLEO revealed the important properties of the bottom and charm quarks and the tau lepton. The last years of operation were dedicated to the charm quark in a program known as CLEO-c. The CLEO-c data, now under analysis, delve further into the mysteries of the charm quark, and provide important new information about the strong force, which binds protons and neutrons and governs quark behavior. In parallel, LEPP theorists are developing new techniques for calculating strong force phenomena. Some apply the power of computers to the strong force using so-called lattice gauge theory techniques, while others seek patterns that relate disparate strong interaction processes.

In addition to its role in particle physics, CESR is an intense source of x-rays. The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) provides these x-rays to scientists, from surface physicists to medical biologists, allowing them to study the microscopic structure of materials.

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