Center for Bright Beams: About

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Transform society by revolutionizing the brightness of beams available to science, medicine and industry.

CBB's overarching research goal is to increase the intensity ("brightness") of beams of charged particles by a factor of 100 while decreasing the cost of key accelerator technologies. CBB will promote significant advances in scientific disciplines ranging from physics to chemistry to biology by enhancing the capabilities of the accelerators essential to research in these fields. It will conduct collaborative research with national laboratories and companies, leveraging their diverse expertise, and will transfer technology to them. It will help integrate the research into instruments that advance the frontiers of knowledge in life sciences, materials science, condensed matter physics, particle physics, and nuclear physics.

The CBB's industrial partners will incorporate their inventions into instruments for manufacturing integrated circuits, producing medical radioisotopes, and developing new pharmaceuticals. CBB will transfer their bright beam technology to market leaders in accelerator components, electron microscopy, photolithography, and wafer inspection. A multifaceted, integrated education program for students comprehensively addresses the needs of students and represents a value added by the STC.

CBB will address the current shortage of accelerator scientists with a comprehensive recruitment and training program that will inform and excite the next generation of scientists, while improving the diversity of the field. CBB will inform undergraduates of the challenges and opportunities in accelerator science and related fields through hands-on research opportunities. The summer research program will give students from diverse backgrounds and primarily undergraduate institutions the opportunity to work in accelerator labs. CBB will train graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to be leaders in the field by providing training in the skills and practices necessary for high-performance team science. CBB will increase the diversity of graduate education in the field of accelerator science, in part through direct partnerships with leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Four optimal outcomes have been established for the Center for Bright Beams:

  • Methods for x100 brighter electron beams through better photocathodes, enabling better X-ray sources, colliders and electron imaging.

  • Methods for x10 lower power losses and x2 higher accelerating fields in RF cavities made of niobium and compound superconductors, for lower costs, simpler refrigeration and wider access to high-power beams.

  • Methods for beam transport that preserve beam quality of x100 brighter beams in linear accelerators and electron microscopes and x10 brighter beams in storage rings.

  • Integration of these methods for optimization of high performance of accelerator systems.


Transform the reach of electron beams by advancing fundamental knowledge and applying it to increase brightness x100 and reduce the cost and size of key enabling technologies. Ensure that these new approaches benefit society by transferring the best of them to national labs and industry. Educate and inspire a diverse generation of students to prepare them for a broad set of career paths including leadership in interdisciplinary team science.


The Center for Bright Beams is a Science and Technology Center funded by the National Science Foundation (award #PHY-1549132), and led by Cornell University. CBB involves partnerships across universities, federal labs and industry.