News and Updates

Oh, Caltech, how you expand to fill free time...

Thursday, July 8, 2011 by Raymond Jimenez

Caltech's hard, so I've disappeared for the past few years.

A synchrotron may yet be in the cards though; I've talked to a couple professors here and at the University of Maryland (UMER) and they've confirmed that, while quite difficult, my idea of a room-contained synchrotron is possible.

Don't hold your breath though; I'm just trying to surivive~!

Summer projects, twiddling thumbs, and design specs, oh my!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 by Raymond Jimenez

Admittedly, it's been a year since the last update, so most people would like to think this project is dead in the ground.

While I've been busy, I haven't quite given up yet. Thinking about preaccelerators (again), I realized that if I drop the requirement that injected electrons are at energy, everything becomes easier hardware-wise, but the control systems grow in complexity by bounds. I'm considering building a microtron, inspired by the fusor forums, or just stuffing the ring with one mechanically tunable RF cavity that can accelerate from 100KeV up.

I also realize now that there's no way I'll build a synchrotron using totally off-the-shelf parts, that's such a laughable idea. Most likely for the chamber I can get away with TIG-welded stainless steel pipes and joints and Conflats where needed, which will give me much more flexibility than using pre-prepared bends, crosses, etc.

Chances are that I won't pop up for another few months; I've been admitted to Caltech and have a full plate of work set aside for me. Just this past 5 weeks, I've been at the Freshman Summer Research Institute (FSRI), a neat research program for incoming underrepresented freshmen. I worked on fluid dynamics and Lagrangiant coherent structures, though the idea of LCS is applicable to even phase diagrams and potential fields.

Older news.

An amateur particle accelerator

I'm trying to build a small (1/2 meter diameter) synchrotron.

What is a synchrotron?

It's a type of particle accelerator that's being used in the latest-and-greatest physics labs. While my writeup about synchrotrons isn't quite done, you can find a good explanation in the SPring-8 comic strips.

It sounds crazy, but small synchrotrons have been created before. There's UMER at the University of Maryland, and there's an even smaller synchrotron called the Small Isochronous Ring. In fact, there's a company, Lyncean Technologies, whose main products are small (1x2m) synchrotron light sources.

It's a little more far-fetched for a high schooler to do it (I'm in my senior year), but even cyclotrons have been built before, by Fred Niell (twice) and by Samuel Goldwasser. There's currently one group of high schoolers building one right now.

I like to stretch the limits and see how far a high school senior can go in terms of engineering and physics. I've built a fusor, so I have a little experience with similar equipment, but I've got a lot to learn.

Raymond Jimenez