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The secret life of cavities – not so secret any more

Science photographer Heiner Müller-Elsner follows a cavity through all stages of production

| 24 May 2012

Cavities will be the heartbeat of the ILC, accelerating electrons and positrons to very high energies so that they can collide in the centre of the detectors. The ILC’s core technology, superconducting radiofrequency technology or SCRF, is also used in other accelerators, for example FLASH at DESY of the future European XFEL. Because they are so central to so many of its projects, and because they are also very attractive, DESY asked science photographer Heiner Müller-Elsner to follow a cavity almost from the mine to the module. Starting at the ingot of pure niobium, the cavity life story takes us to a big melting pot, numbered sheets, tests of all possible sorts, clean rooms and strings to the final cryomodule. Commissioned by ILC-HiGrade, which had at its core the SCRF cavity, Müller-Elsner shows the precision involved in all steps, the fascination of acceleration technology and of course the people that are involved in it.

Have a look at the slideshow to see a selection of the images. Or if you prefer total immersion: a photo exhibition opens on 30 May at DESY in Hamburg and Karsten Buesser from DESY will give a public talk called “Cool runnings – cold technology for fast particles”. The event starts at 7 p.m. in the auditorium, the exhibition will be on show for two weeks. More info here.

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