Milestone-Proposal:Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility, 1973

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Docket #:2023-20

This proposal has been submitted for review.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has the IEEE Section(s) in which the plaque(s) will be located agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

1973 - present

Title of the proposed milestone:

Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility, 1973

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

Commissioned in 1973, the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF) has empowered premier research in nuclear spectroscopy and structure, fission and fusion studies, transient fields and hyperfine interactions, and accelerator mass spectrometry. Using a 15 million volt tandem electrostatic accelerator and a 6 million volt linear accelerator loop, the HIAF has advanced our understanding of climate change, biomedicine, astrophysics and the impact of nuclear fission products on the environment.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

Commissioned in 1973, The Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF) is a unique scientific facility that combines voltages of up to 15 million volts with some of the most accurate beam control and detection technology in the world. HIAF consists of a 15 million volt tandem electrostatic accelerator with an additional 6 million volt linear accelerator loop. Driven by Australia’s largest and highest energy ion accelerator, ions ranging from hydrogen to plutonium can be accelerated. Eleven adaptable beam lines and myriad detector systems allow a wide variety of experiments to be performed.

This facility has aided humanity in achieving technical excellence in diverse domains throughout its history. No wonder that researchers from all over the globe come to use the power and precision of the Heavy-Ion Accelerator to explore a wide range of topics, from exploration of fundamental dynamics of nuclear reactions to analysis of environmental samples, dark matter detectors to developing new medical therapies.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Australian Capital Territory Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Australian Capital Territory Section
Senior Officer Name: Ambarish Natu

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Australian Capital Territory Section
Senior Officer Name: Ambarish Natu

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: IEEE Australian Capital Territory Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Ambarish Natu

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Ambarish Natu
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

-35.282865648287576, 149.1126606020508

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. Outside the Control Room of HIAF at the Australian National University

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

Near the Control Room of HIAF on 58A Garran Road, Acton ACT 2061 Australia

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

Its publically accessible.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Australian National University

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

The Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF) comprises the 14UD Heavy Ion Accelerator and the Superconducting linear accelerator (LINAC) booster. The 14UD was commissioned in 1973 as Australia’s most powerful ion accelerator, providing ion beams at speeds of up to 20% of the speed of light. The LINAC was first used to boost beams from the 14UD for physics experiments in 1996. The 14UD was the first large accelerator constructed by the National Electrostatics Corporation (NEC). As a result, much of its development was carried out on-site, with heavy involvement of staff at the Research School of Physics within the Australian National University (ANU). The end result has been an outstanding record of stability and reliability at and above 14 million volts well in excess of its original rating.

The 14UD was used to make pioneering studies of the structure of exotic nuclei, nuclear reaction dynamics important in the synthesis of new elements, and climate and environment studies and became, and remains, the centre of nuclear physics research in Australia [1,2].

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

There were significant technical hurdles to be overcome to ensure the 14UD could be sustainably operated as intended. This was the highest voltage machine then-designed by the supplier, National Electrostatics Corporation (NEC) of Wisconsin, USA and the titanium-ceramic accelerating tube modules invented by NEC were an unproven technology at the time. Construction of the pressure vessel and the gas handling system was the responsibility of ANU, and was undertaken on site, so NEC could only partially test the tube and column (in air) prior to shipping from the USA. ANU was also responsible for beam transport elements and instrumenting the large target area. Thus the project was a major departure from the standard of acceptance tests at the site of the manufacturer, prior to shipment [2,3].

Following acceptance testing, it became clear that a programme of continued technical innovation and improvement would be required to achieve sustainable operations at the required level of capability. The programme included the following landmark upgrades and in-house developments:

•1979: The high energy carbon second foil stripper was commissioned to allow double stripping capability with substantial increase of energy of heavy ion beams.

•1980: A significant innovation was the development of a beam chopper and a fast (< nanosecond) room temperature pulsed beam systems which evolved to the state of the art system [4, 5], resulting in the most flexible beam pulsing system for an electrostatic accelerator anywhere in the world. These enabled precise particle identification and measurements of metastable nuclear states for nuclear structure studies. In the same year the superconducting High Energy buncher (<100 ps) installation was brought into operation.

•1981-1985: Other significant technical obstacles surmounted in the early 1980s included the removal of insulating SF6 gas breakdown products from the accelerator, which was essential to protect the accelerator components such as the charging chains from corrosive fluorine products. This was overcome through major improvements to the SF6 gas recirculation and filtration system [6].

•1988: Further developments resulted in commissioning of new injection system including two negative ion sources, Wien filter and double focusing magnet [7, 8].

•1989: Installation of compressed geometry acceleration tubes and commissioning of a patented high voltage resistor grading system [9] resulted in the highest operational terminal volts for this machine class, well above design specifications.

•1990: Manually operated rotation base for the analyzing magnet in order to delivery ion beams to different target areas.

•1991-2001: Development of niobium magnetron sputtering of quarter wave resonators facilitated in-house production of superconducting accelerating modules used in HE buncher and time-energy lens.

•1994: A locally-made and designed valve resolved shortcomings with the stripping system used to change the charge states of accelerated ions from negative to positive at the terminal of the accelerator, avoiding the need to vent the entire accelerator tube on a regular basis. During the same time gas stripper and highly successful military-grade surge protection electronics were been commissioned and the system demonstrated fault free operation over several decades.

•1993-1996: A highly significant milestone for HIAF was the addition of a long-planned booster accelerator for the 14UD Pelletron. The superconducting linear accelerator (LINAC) booster was installed to provide an increase in beam energies approximately equivalent to that provided by an increase in the terminal voltage of the 14UD of 6.5 million volts. The LINAC was transferred from Daresbury Laboratory in the United Kingdom, but many components suffered water condensation damage and corrosion during shipping and required extensive repair, redesign and remanufacture, adding to the technical complexity of an already formidable project. Further technical obstacles included establishing reliable vacuum and cryogenic systems [10, 11], performing highly complex beam optics calculations [14] to predict beam transmission, mastery of the processes used to Nb-sputter quarter wave resonators and PbSn plate the split-loop resonators [13], comprehension of the complex procedures of tuning the LINAC and setting up the resonators, [14], development of innovative superconducting radiofrequency accelerating structures [15, 16, 17] and establishing the accelerator computer control and radiation protection systems.

•1996: All of these challenges were successfully overcome and the first use of the LINAC for physics experiments occurred. The 14UD-LINAC capability provided the beam energies to explore heavy ion nuclear reaction dynamics at higher combinations of beam and target atomic numbers, including understanding quantum effects on nuclear fusion and fission and the formation of superheavy elements. The scale of this technical and engineering achievement was recognised with the presentation of the national Australian Engineering Excellence Award in 2007, from the Institution of Engineers Australia [18].

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

The 14UD was the highest voltage electrostatic accelerator in the world at the time it came online, and it remains one of the three highest voltage electrostatic accelerators operating in the world. It demonstrated the most reliable operation of any accelerator of its type over the subsequent decades, and delivered world-record sensitivity as an accelerator mass spectrometer [19]. In particular, it has proven more reliable and economical in its operational performance than comparable facilities overseas, including those that have a nominally higher terminal voltage.

Other locations of note include the ATLAS facility at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois, USA, which previously used a scheme similar to that of the 14UD by employing a Tandem and LINAC post-accelerator. That Tandem has since been replaced with a LINAC. The research programs at both HIAF and Argonne have some overlap, but each has some unique features. The Tandems at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, USA, have comparable voltage to the 14UD, and they were previously used for nuclear physics research. The Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA, focused on radioactive beams, but it was shut down in 2012 after 50 years of operation.

The flexibility of HIAF’s capabilities and its reputation for reliable performance are reflected in the broad range of world-class research it has supported since the 1970s. These areas of research include:

•Nuclear spectroscopy and structure, including precise measurements of high-spin, metastable states in exotic nuclei including studies of very neutron-deficient nuclei that are neither spherical nor well-deformed, but instead exhibit multiple shapes at similar excitation energies.

•Fission and fusion studies: the dynamics of heavy ion fusion reactions on time scales of the order of 10-20 seconds, the role of nuclear viscosity, precise measurements of fission fragment angular anisotropies; dependence of the competition between quasi-fission and fusion-fission processes on the orientation of the deformed target nucleus; and pioneering, ultraprecise measurements of fusion excitation functions that illuminate the effects of intrinsic nuclear structure on fusion probabilities, crucial for understanding of superheavy element synthesis.

•Transient fields and hyperfine interactions: a systematic effort to understand the very large and anomalous magnetic fields experienced by ions moving swiftly through matter, and used to measure magnetic properties of very short-lived nuclear states.

•Accelerator mass spectrometry: initially aimed at hydrological studies of Australia’s groundwater resources using the isotope 36Cl, the programme diversified into other isotopes and fields including climate change, biomedicine, astrophysics, and environmental monitoring of discharge from nuclear reprocessing plants. The high terminal voltage of the 14UD and its stability made HIAF the most sensitive system in the world for measurements of 36Cl (1 atom of 36Cl in 1017 atoms of stable chlorine), which continues to the present day.

Underlying these achievements in research has been the unique relationship between the academic and technical staff, rarely found at comparable facilities overseas. HIAF has a strong tradition of technical and academic staff working collaboratively to develop high precision instrumentation for researchers as well as improvements to the capabilities and performance of the accelerators. In particular, the LINAC installation and commissioning involved multiple self-managed teams of academic and technical staff working on all aspects of design, manufacturing of components, design of new processes, installation and operation. This culture of partnership and teamwork has been remarked upon by many international visitors and has driven innovation at HIAF for decades.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

1. A Century of Canberra Engineering, Keith Baker, Engineers Australia Canberra Division 2013, ISBN 978-0-646-90344-6

2. Wonders Never Cease: 100 Australian Engineering Achievements, Engineers Australia 2019, ISBN 978-1-925627-30-5

3. A Tower of Strength: A History of the Department of Nuclear Physics, 1950-1997. T.R. Ophel 1998, ISBN 0-646-34823 X.

4. Lobanov N, Linardakis P, Tempra D, Bunching and chopping for tandem accelerators. Part I: Bunching, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research: Section B 499(2021) 133-141

5. Lobanov N, Linardakis P, Tempra D, Bunching and chopping for tandem accelerators. Part II: Chopping, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research: Section B 499(2021) 142-147

6. T.R. Ophel, D.C. Weisser, A. Cooper, L.K. Fifield and G.D. Putt, Aspects of breakdown product contamination of sulphur hexafluoride in electrostatic accelerators, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Volume 217, Issue 3, 1 December 1983, Pages 383-396

7. Weisser D, Lobanov N, Hausladen P, Fifield K, Wallace H, Tims S, Apushkinsky E Novel Matching Lens and Spherical Ionizer for a Cesium Sputter Ion Source Pramana 59, 6(2002) 997-1006

8. P. A. Hausladen, D. C. Weisser, K. Fifield, Simple concepts for ion source improvement, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B 190(1-4):402-404 2002

9. D.C. Weisser, Resistor assemblies, their development and performance, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A, Vol 328, Issues 1–2, 1993, (138-145)

10. T. Kibedi, D.C. Weisser, N. Lobanov, R.B. Turkentine, A.G. Muirhead, D.J. Anderson, The ANU linac cryogenic system, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A, Vol 382, Issues 1–2, 1996, (167-171)

11. Lobanov N, Investigation of thermal acoustic oscillations in a superconducting linac cryogenic system, Cryogenics 85(2017) 15-22
12. A. Stuchbery, D.C. Weisser, Beam optics design for the ANU linear booster accelerator, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A, Vol 382, Issues 1–2, 1996, (172-175)

13. Lobanov N, Electrodeposition and characterisation of lead tin superconducting films for application in heavy ion booster, Physica C - Superconductivity and its applications 519 (2015) 71-78

14. Lobanov N, Superconducting resonator used as a phase and energy detector for linac setup, Physical Review Accelerators and Beams 19, 7(2016) 1-10

15. Lobanov N, Weisser D, Two-Stub Quarter Wave Superconducting Resonator Design, Physical review Special Topics: Accelerators and Beams 9, 4(2006) 042002-1-5

16. Lobanov N, Weisser D, Three-stub quarter wave superconducting resonator design, Physical review Special Topics: Accelerators and Beams 9, 11(2006) 112002-1-7

17. Lobanov N, Weisser D, Rotary and displacement tuners for multistub cavities, Physical review Special Topics: Accelerators and Beams 10, 062001(2007) 6

18. Div_Can_October2007_newsletter_0.pdf (

19. Discovery Machines: Accelerators for science, technology, health an innovation. Australian Academy of Science 2015, ISBN 978-0-85847-429-1

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).

Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.