This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today


What is the most powerful accelerator in the world?

Record breaking accelerator

By Hamish Johnston in Portland, Oregon

Here’s a question for you, what is the most powerful accelerator in the world?

No, it’s not the LHC – that holds the record for energy – the answer is the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at the Oak National Lab in Tennessee.

In September 2009 the facility delivered a pulsed beam of 1 GeV protons at a power of 1 MW.

The pulses are fired at a target of liquid mercury, creating copious amounts of neutrons, which can then be slowed down and used for studying solids and liquids.

This afternoon I saw a nice talk by Stuart Henderson of Oak Ridge about recent progress at the SNS. Since experiments began in 2006, the number of instruments attached to the neutron beamline has grown to 12 and he expects that 16 instruments will be running by 2012.

And of course, Oak Ridge hope to upgrade the facility between 2012–2017 – boosting the energy to 1.3 GeV and the power to 3 MW.

This entry was posted in APS March Meeting 2010. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile


  1. No, it’s not the SNS. The answer is the Paul Scherrer Institute’s High Intensity Proton Accelerator facility. Since May 2009 the PSI-Ring cyclotron delivers a proton beam of 590 MeV at a current of 2.2 mA. This corresponds to a beam power of approximately 1.3 MW. The beam is not pulsed (though has a 50 MHz time structure) and is fired through two carbon targets for meson production and finally ends up in the SINQ-target where neutrons are produced. The machine runs 24 h a day and 200 days a year with an average availability of 90%.
    Furthermore, PSI follows an upgrade path to reach 3 mA in CW-mode within the next 10 years. So up to now this facility holds the world record in beam power.

  2. We at LANSCE applaud the remarkable achievements of SNS and PSI in high power accelerator development.
    It is nice to see these facilities join the 1MW club, inaugurated by the LANSCE accelerator in 1986. Then called LAMPF, LANSCE reached 1.2mA at 800MeV proton energy–1 MW–and ran at that power routinely until ca. 1999. (For budget reasons, LANSCE runs at lower power now.) Like SNS, LANSCE is pulsed, which provides high peak power for time of flight techiques.


  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="">IOP</blockquote>
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text