Internationally Recognized Physicist Speaks on Campus in Conjunction with Conference

Rolland Johnson physics lecture
April 07, 2012



Dr. Rolland P. Johnson, an internationally recognized particle accelerator physicist, spoke to a group of business and community leaders April 6 about his work in the development of “New Nuclear Technology to Produce Inexpensive Diesel Fuel from Natural Gas and Renewable Carbon.” This technology, part of the next generation of nuclear power applications, uses Accelerator-Driven Subcritical Reactors (ADSR) in nuclear power plants, which have the capability to operate in an inherently safe mode, generate no greenhouse gases, and produce minimal nuclear waste with no byproducts.

Johnson’s public lecture was organized by the GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus and the Department of Physics in conjunction with his participation in the "Physics with Secondary Hadron Beams in the 21st Century" workshop being hosted at the University the following day. An invitation-only conference, attended by 21 physicists, it was organized by two members of GW’s physics department, Igor Strakovsky, research professor and conference chair, and William Briscoe, professor; as well as Mike Pennington, associate director of the theoretical and computational physics division at Jefferson Lab, located in Newport News, Va. The conference included a mix of participants from universities, government research laboratories [Jefferson Lab, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Los Alamos National Lab (LANL)], and industry.

The day-long conference’s goal was to bring together experts in the Spectroscopy, Neutron, and Accelerator physics fields to discuss two critical tasks and how these two tasks will benefit the resonance-physics, US energy program, and the planned Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) complex at Jefferson Laboratory. The workshops’ results will be used in a report to the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee, which provides official advice to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Attendees explored expanding the scope of Jefferson Lab’s EIC complex to collect Hadron and Quantum Chromo Dynamics (QCD) data, as the particle physics community needs new hadron induced measurements below 3 GeV. This would be a crucial addition to current studies using electromagnetic probes, as most current hadron induced data sets were obtained over 30 years ago. Suggested additions to the complex are the proposed JLab Booster, the smallest circular proton accelerator in the accelerator chain of the complex, and the JLab Linac, a proton Linear Accelerator, modeled after Fermi's accelerator built by Luis Alvarez in 1974.

The second proposal is to include a neutron facility in Jefferson Lab’s EIC as it is critical for the US Energy program, in particular the upcoming Generation IV Nuclear Reactors and Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS). This addition could also later be used to provide a beam of polarized deuterons, which can be transformed into a polarized neutron beam, or even a source of the neutrino beam with energies of order 1 GeV and lower.