TMD Technologies Limited, a West London based manufacturer of hi-tech microwave and RF products, has been awarded a contract to produce the latest CERN prototype CLIC accelerating structure. TMD has long been associated with the supply of RF components to CERN, and this latest, prestigious order is the result this successful relationship.
The Compact Linear Collider (CLIC) Collaboration involves the development of a next generation electron-positron collider that could serve as a ‘factory’ for mass-producing Higgs Bosons. The key elements of the CLIC design are the accelerating structures, which need to produce an electric-field gradient of up to 100 million volts per meter to accelerate the electrons and positrons (antielectrons) to high energies within the shortest distance possible - in this case about 7 km for a collision energy of 380 GeV.
Each accelerating structure is made from high-precision copper disks stacked and high-temperature bonded to form a monolithic block to which additional components (couplers, cooling channels, and flanges) are subsequently brazed.
One particularly tricky aspect of the complex procedure is to maintain the alignment of the disk-stack to much better than 100 microns (approximately the width of a human hair) across its 26 cm length during the assembly and brazing processes.
In close collaboration with CERN, the structure was carefully assembled at TMD’s advanced manufacturing facility in West London, and bonded and brazed in one of its high-temperature furnaces. The final product was then dispatched to CERN to be characterized and tested in the CLIC high-gradient test stand.
High-gradient structures like these have potential applications in compact particle-beam therapy systems for cancer treatment as well as compact free-electron laser light sources.
Prof. Philip Burrows, CLIC Collaboration Leader and Director of the John Adams Institute, said that it is wonderful to have a UK SME like TMD taking a lead in developing advanced technology for particle accelerator systems. The technologies that TMD is helping to perfect for CLIC have potential applications for many other accelerator-based solutions to societal challenges, not least in beam therapy systems for cancer treatment. TMD has also recently completed a manufacturing study for the CLIC team - assessing how a substantial volume of structures could be assembled and delivered to enable the build of CLIC.
Richard Patrick, TMD’s Head of Business Development commented that they have been tracking this exciting opportunity for some time and are now looking forward to the project being funded - since the challenging nature of the work fits well with TMD’s other manufacturing activities in high vacuum and precision engineering.