A "cool" project in beam physics

Project leader: Bela Erdelyi, Physics

The electron-ion collider is a proposed facility for next generation nuclear physics experiments at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility aimed at improving our understanding of the visible matter around us, especially at the level of its fundamental building blocks.

We are developing an advanced design of the accelerator chain needed for the collider, and study the basic charged particle beam processes involved. The particle accelerators will accelerate any element from protons to lead ions to very high energies, and collide them head-on with electron zipping around at practically the speed of light.

One of the fundamental enabling technologies is called electron cooling of ions. This uses a physics mechanism that allows maintaining the circulating beams in small vacuum pipes for extended periods of time. Considering that beams consist of billions of particles, each interacting with one another, the computational complexity to model and simulate these interactions are prohibitive even with today's largest and most powerful computers.

At the fundamental level, this complex system is an example of what scientists call an N-body problem. One of the most important innovations in approximating solutions numerically in reasonable amounts of time and high precision is called the fast multipole method (FMM). We are developing novel formulations of the FMM and apply it to solve the N-body problem relevant for electron cooling of ion beams necessary to enable a future electron ion collider. Gaea is the ideal platform for the development of our applications.