Huddersfield hosts the UK’s only Accelerator Research Group in which the research on new accelerator technology focuses upon societal demands. The work of the Institute has received international recognition by, and impact on, politicians, industrialists and the media particularly with regard to

  • The development and demonstration of an entirely innovative form of particle accelerator: the non-scaling Fixed Field Alternating Gradient (ns-FFAG) synchrotron. The successful commissioning and operation of the world’s first ns-FFAG, EMMA, in March 2011, is now recognised as confirmation that the novel method of acceleration can be developed for compact, reliable and cost effective proton and light ion drivers for cancer therapy, clean energy generation, waste transmutation, muon beam production for materials research, and muon acceleration for fundamental physics

Preparation for building the 1.5b€ European Spallation Source in Lund, Sweden. Huddersfield was a major partner in the EU FP7 funded Preparatory Phase Project, and continues to be a key player in the ESS project.

Underpinning Research

As part of a broad portfolio of research on scientific, technological and industrial accelerator applications, which also includes the relocation of the STFC’s multimillion pound national Medium Energy Ion Scattering facility MEIS to Huddersfield,  two components have had particular impact

  1. Professors Cywinski, Edgecock and Barlow took the lead in establishing the CONFORM project to develop a new type of particle accelerator, the non-scaling fixed field alternating gradient (ns-FFAG) accelerator with the goal of developing more compact, reliable yet powerful accelerators to meet societies needs in the fields of healthcare, energy production and materials studies. CONFORM’s development and construction of the world’s first ns-FFAG was supported by the largest ever award (£8.2M) from the RCUK Basic Technology programme.

    CONFORM had three work packages: (WP1) EMMA: the construction of the World’s first ns-FFAG to demonstrate that this unique type of accelerator actually works; (WP2) PAMELA: the conceptual design of a facility based on ns-FFAGs for delivery proton and carbon ion beams to patients via gantries for cancer therapy; and (WP3) APPLICATIONS, in particular for producing neutrons to drive thorium-fuelled nuclear reactors and for nuclear waste transmutation, muon producton etc.

    Barlow was the CONFORM PI Edgecock was WP1 Project Leader and the international EMMA Collaboration PI, Cywinski the joint coordinator of WP3. CONFORM ran from 2007 until 2011, Cywinski (with A.Bungau), joining University of Huddersfield in 2008, Edgecock at the 50% level (the other 50% being the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) in 2010 and Barlow in 2011. The first successful demonstration of ns-FFAG acceleration took place in March 2011.

    The ns-FFAG principle brings together the fixed field of the cyclotron (without the relativistic limitations of the cyclotron) and the strong focusing of the synchrotron (without the need for synchronised ramping fields). The former allows more rapid acceleration, more acceleration cycles per second and improves the machine stability, whilst the latter enables the magnets to be much smaller and cheaper and provides better beam control. In addition, the non-scaling nature of ns-FFAGs is very important as it removes a constraint applied to all other circular accelerators and gives significantly more flexibility Unfortunately this is at the expense of introducing resonances. CONFORM’s belief that the resonances would not be problematic because of the rapid acceleration profile was proven correct in March 2011 with the first acceleration in EMMA. It is widely believed that the ns-FFAG principle demonstrated by CONFORM will revolutionise accelerator applications in many fields of science and technology

  2. The European Spallation Source has been at the design stage since 1992, and Cywinski has played a major role in development and promotion of this world leading neutron science facility since then. However the major political and financial impetus to build the 1.5b€ ESS was provided by the EU FP7 ESS Preparatory Phase Project (2008 – 2010) which led to the decision to build ESS in Lund in Sweden. Huddersfield was the only UK HEI participating in ESS-PPP  and Cywinski played a major role both leading and participating in a number of the ESS-PPP work packages (including spallation target design). Huddersfield’s contribution to ESS has continued with Cywinski and Edgecock, joined in 2011 by Seviour, contributing to the ESS accelerator design directly (Sevior) or to the UK’s contribution to the ESS target design (Cywinski, Edgcock)


  1. M Apollonio et al. Accelerator design concept for future neutrino facilities, JINST 4:P07001,2009; 124 citations.
  2. T.R. Edgecock et al.  EMMA - the World's First Non-scaling FFAG, EPAC08-THPP004, Jun 26, 2008, Conf.Proc. C0806233 (2008) THPP004; 19 citations.
  3. R. Barlow et al. (EMMA Collaboration, 37 authors), EMMA: The world's first non-scaling FFAG, Nucl.Instrum.Meth.A624:1-19, 2010; 6 citations.
  4. Bungau, A, Cywinski, R. and Bungau, C,  (2010) Target Optimisation Studies for the European Spallation Source. In: IPAC'10 - Proceedings of the 1st International Particle Accelerator Conference. IPAC 10 OC/ACFA, Kyoto, Japan, pp. 256-258. ISBN 9789290833529
  5. Barlow et al, Nature Physics,  accepted December 2011


  • Barlow plus Cywinski, Edgecock et al,   EPSRC Grant reference EP/E032869/1    The Non Scaling Fixed Field Alternating Gradient (NS-FFAG) Accelerator, 1.4.07 to 31.3.11,    £7,472,363
  • Cywinski et al,   EU FP7 Project Reference:202247 The European spallation neutron source (ESS) (2008-2011, 24 months), Project cost:6,612,468 EURO Project Funding:4,999,995 EURO 

Details of the Impact

Although the real impact of this project is likely to be several years away there are already many examples of interim impacts particularly within the wider higher education sector, in the press and in public engagement and outreach activities. 

Impact in the Higher Education Sector

An EPSRC Basic Technology Centres for Doctoral Training entitled “Applications of Next Generation Accelerators” has been established as a result of the research into accelerators.  Four Universities are involved in the consortium: the University of Strathclyde, Queens University Belfast, the University of Surrey and the University of Huddersfield.  The Centre will provide training, guidance and exposure to the wider academic and industrial communities, for doctoral students in the application of next generation accelerators and the development and application of these accelerators and their derivative sources, which includes laser driven accelerators, fixed field alternating gradient accelerators (FFAGs) and radiation sources based on them.

Press, Radio and TV

In June 2011 The Mail on Sunday contained an article entitled “This is Emma. She's going to save the world (and cure cancer)”.  The article showed how EMMA has proven the nsFFAG concept, and is now being used to help designs better accelerators for radiotherapy, future particle colliders, and for highly reliable powerful proton accelerators producing neutrons to drive sub-critical nuclear reactors.   One such example is PAMELA, the Particle Accelerator for Medical Applications. Once built PAMELA will have an immediate practical use in the treatment of cancer.  Physics World discussed our ns-FFAG research (May 2011).  In the international press, News Focus in Science (8 January 2010 Vol. 327 no. 5962 pp. 142-143) devoted two pages to EMMA.

Public Engagement Activities

The team have also commissioned two videos describing accelerators and their applications.

The first is a short documentary film about the research carried out by the British Accelerator Science and Radiation Oncology Consortium (BASROC) as part of its RCUK-funded CONFORM project. Presented by Professor Robert Winston, the film aims to raise public awareness of the role of particle accelerators in science, technology and medicine, and promote recent new and exciting developments in accelerator design, particularly through the construction of the EMMA, at Daresbury Laboratory. It starts with a brief history of accelerator science and then goes on to explore this innovative accelerator technology, and its applications in proton/hadron therapy for the treatment of cancers and in energy production.  It has been watched approximately 4000 times on youtube alone and over 1000 DVDs have been distributed to Schools, the press, politicians and the public across Europe 

In the second Sir Patrick Stewart presents an introduction to the European Spallation Source - a major science facility that will provide the world's most intense beams of neutrons for the study of the structure and dynamics of materials at the atomic level.  ESS has been described as the Hubble telescope of neutron sources, probing deep into materials with unprecedented clarity. It will be one of the most important and prestigious scientific research facilities in the world, enabling developments as diverse and as significant as drug design; new magnetic materials for data storage; super strong, super light ceramics for engineering; biocompatible materials; hydrogen fuel for clean transport and innovative processes for capturing carbon.  The video is available on line and has been viewed over 32,000 times.

Outreach Activities 

Since 2009 several members of the academic team have been involved in outreach activities, particularly talking to school children and members of the public.  Examples include:

The CONFORM open day for the public, press and politicians at Church House, Westminster (2010)

Annual events held in 2010 and 2011

  • Research experience days" where a group of 15-25 14/15 year olds came into university to listen to a series of pitches on scientific proposals and decide which should be funded. So it is a sort of group debating session within the context of scientific research and how they would tackle the big social issues of the day, i.e. accelerators and health-care/energy-production.
  • "Applications of Accelerators" lectures at the RAL Particle Physics Department Masterclasses.  These are for 6 formers. They run over 3 days and typically more than 500 students come from more than 30 schools.
  • “Applications of Accelerators” at the Goldsmiths' Company Particle Physics Summer School.  A week long course for teachers.

Other “one-off” activities include:

  • School lectures at Oldham Sixth Form College (2008,2009), Huddersfield New College (2010)
  • January 2011, "Cafe Scientific", at Burnley, 40 mature attendees. Talk on the impact accelerators have on society and future benefits.
  • May 2011, "Accelerator taster day", a range of talks and hands-on demonstrations aimed at sixth formers.  23 attendees rated the day 4 out of 5.
  • December 2011, University of Huddersfield public lecture, "Treating Cancer"!

Impact on Industry

Huddersfield’s leading role in accelerator applications has led to a formal partnership and collaboration with Siemens AG, with the International Institute for Accelerator Applications being named as one of only a handful of Siemens Official Technology Partner. Professor Oliver Heid, Siemens’ Head of Healthcare Technology and Concepts holds a visiting professorship at Huddersfield. Siemens have donated a £500K ion source to the Institute and are co-supporting two CASE studentships. The work with Siemens is covered by a NDA.

The University of Huddersfield organised the European Spallation Source Industry Day meeting in Copenhagen in February 2010. Over 400 industrialists, scientists and politicians attended the meeting and listened to talks about the use of neutrons for materials research, about how ESS will be built and the facility’s impact on society.