This week I have been analyzing the instrument that accelerates a beam of particles towards a target so that we can get the types of particles we need for the Mu2e experiment. I received a large excel file containing data about the beam as well as a mathematica notebook that analyzes some of the information contained in the spreadsheet. The first order of business was to learn the basics of particle accelerator physics, because at the time of receiving the data, I knew almost nothing. Lucky for me, there are a lot of resources out there, especially in the form of powerpoint presentations. I read through them, constantly checking the spreadsheet to see if I could start to find connections between what I was reading in the presentations and the large amount of numbers staring back at me. I’m glad I took the time to learn the basics because it allowed me to make sense of the data and figure out where to start. Otherwise, I would have been completely lost. The next thing I did was rewrite all of the contents in the mathematica notebook into a python file, where I could actually manipulate, since I do not have mathematica on my personal computer.
One area of interest to us is the beam intensity. The accelerator employs the use of magnetic quadrupoles to focus the beam in one direction (x or y) of the beam plane and defocus in the other. Therefore the magnetic quadrupoles usually come in pairs to focus in both directions. I spent some time analyzing how certain beam parameters related to beam intensity are affected by the presence of magnetic quadrupoles. I did this by finding highs and lows in the parameters related to intensity and finding the positions along the beam line they correspond to. I thus obtained more insight regarding the nature of the quadrupoles and how they affect beam focusing/intensity. Sure enough, the highs and lows corresponded to a magnetic quadrupoles, but it was interesting to see how quickly the beam defocused after being focused by one. I also made a lot of graphs of the data, which helps me visualize what is going on.
In addition to looking at the intensity of the beam of particles, we are also interested in accelerating them. Glossing over the technical details, there are chambers inside the accelerator that give the particle energy, and thus accelerating it. I analyzed the energy gain from each of the chambers in the accelerator and, after adding all of them up, found that we end up with exactly the amount of energy we need our particles to have for our experiment.
Also since my lab recently joined a new collaboration, I often feel a little bit lost in the midst of all the information I am exposed to. So yesterday, inspired by the initiative of undergraduates in other labs, I organized a meeting in which the graduate student working on the project goes over the basics of the experiment along with other useful supplementary information with me and another undergraduate also working on the project. I figured it could be a time to learn relevant information that would allow me and the other undergrad to eventually be more helpful and independent and to get help with whatever we are working on. The idea was met with more excitement than I expected and we are meeting today, with my boss and another senior scientist in attendance.