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India Steps Up Research In Particle Acceleration, Check Out The Most Powerful Indian Institutes

India Steps Up Research In Particle Acceleration, Check Out The Most Powerful Indian Institutes

The last time particle accelerators in India made news was after the discovery of Higgs Boson, better known as God’s Particle in 2012 that prompted a spate of development in particle physics. Reportedly, in 2001, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre took the lead in commissioning a Large Hadron Collider. As India steps up to play a bigger role in particle acceleration, we list down the best and active particle accelerators in India that are making incredible contributions in the field of physics, and even in different sectors.

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1.India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO)

INO, based in Theni district in Tamil Nadu, is a project that is aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory, and involves leading institutes such as TIFR, BARC, IMSc, SINP, VECC, HRI and IOP as contributors. It is one of the biggest particle physics experiments undertaken in India. The project is expected to be completed by 2019, and is going to create a full-fledged underground science laboratory for studies in Physics, Biology, Geology and Hydrology. Once completed, its main magnetised iron calorimeter (ICAL) experiment will include the world’s largest magnet which will be four times larger than the 12,500-tonne magnet in the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at CERN.

INO Site. Image credits: INO.

Goal: The main goal of INO is to study neutrinos. The study of neutrinos has gained a lot of momentum. The controversy of neutrino being massless or having certain mass, and certain mixing parameters are some of they key interests in studying neutrinos. ICAL is designed to address some of these open problems in a unique way.

2.Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC)

VECC is a unit of Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India. It is also one of the partner institutions of Homi Bhabha National Institute, and has active collaborations with CERN, BNL, FAIR, TRIUMF, RIKEN, GANIL and DUBNA.Their project has three components, Superconducting Electron Linac, high power actinide target and superconducting heavy ion linear accelerators, built in collaboration with TRIUMF laboratory, Canada. It has two clotrons namely K130 cyclotron and K500 superconducting cyclotron and the research activities revolve around them.

Image credits: VECC.

Goal: VECC is involved with beam delivery programmes of K130 and K500 cyclotron. It also aims to contribute to running beam delivery programmes for experimentalists in nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry, atomic physics and condensed matter physics.


Indus-2 is an initiative of Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore. Indus-2 is a synchrotron radiation source which is a booster cum storage ring and an improvement of Indus-1, which is another synchrotron radiation source by RRCAT. The lattice is designed to give low beam emittance and high brightness. It is one of the most important projects under process at RRCAT. The radiation source of Indus-2 is at an advanced stage of construction.

Goal: The synchrotron accelerator will accelerate electrons to generate X rays. It will provide radiation from bending magnets.

4.Pelletron Accelerator (IUAC)

Image source: IUAC.

Pelletron is an electrostatic accelerator which was installed in 1990, by the Inter University Accelerator Centre (IUAC). This accelerator is a tandem Van de graaf type of an accelerator which has unique features like compressed geometry, accelerator tubes for higher terminal voltage, offset and matching quadruples for charge state.


Goal: Pelletron’s main objective is to contribute to heavy ion accelerator research in India.





5.Pelletron Accelerator (TIFR-BARC)

APJ Abdul Kalam visit to LINAC in 2010. Image source: TIFR.

Another pelletron accelerator made by a joined collaboration of TIFR and BARC, has been serving as a major facility for heavy ion accelerator based research in India since its commissioning in 1988. The experimental community consists of scientists and students from research centres and universities within and outside the country as well. The accelerator delivers beams ranging from proton to iodine. The development of the superconducting LINAC is a major milestone in the accelerator technology in our country. Most of the critical components of the LINAC booster, the first superconducting heavy ion accelerator in India, have been designed, developed and fabricated indigenously. More than 130 Ph.D. theses and over 700 publications in refereed international journals including 19 publications in Physical Review Letters have resulted from the research activities in this laboratory.

Goal: The project aims for heavy ion accelerator based research in India and has been delivering beams since the start of its operation.

6.Electron Accelerators by BARC

BARC has set up an Electron Beam Centre (EBC) in Navi Mumbai that will house two electron accelerators. At present, the accelerator components are being assembled and tested. The building is functional along with all its utilities and the labs. On the accelerator front, sub-systems of electron guns, gun modulator, prototype Linac cavity, vacuum pumps, control consoles, power supplies and microwave power source are being assembled and tested in their respective labs. The accelerators with such high powers of 3 MeV and 10 MeV are being designed and built for the first time in the country.

Goal: Electron accelerators have many applications, some of which include radiation processing of materials, improving quality of products, sterilization of disposable medical products, food preservation and storage. With this project, BARC is planning to help in these applications.

In Conclusion

India has shown considerable progress in in the area of research and these accelerators, along with many more to come, prove that we are moving towards positive slope of progress versus time graph. We have also participated in the world famous Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and also participating with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Proton Improvement Plan (PIP-II). To date, we lack big accelerators like LHC yet, but we are making developments with small accelerators. Upcoming years will tell how much more discoveries these accelerators can being to us.

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