Article - Koffler Accelerator
THE KOFFLER ACCELERATOR AT THE WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
With the recent inauguration of the Koffler Accelerator at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel's nuclear physicists acquired one of the most advanced tools for probing the secrets of the universe. The futuristic twin-tower accelerator, rising over the Rehovot campus, houses a 14 U.D. Pelletron, a sophisticated research instrument for the study of the nucleus of the atom.
The idea for the new accelerator was first put forward in 1968, when it became apparent that the future of nuclear structure research in Israel depended on the acquisition and installation of a modern accelerator facility. After a period of careful study and evaluation of various types of accelerators, the go-ahead was given for the pelletron project, one of the most complicated ever undertaken in Israel. Next came the stage of painstaking construction which was supervised by an Institute team, headed by Dr. Eliel Skurnik. On November 9, 1976 after remarkably few delays, except for the Yom Kippur War which held up building for six months, the completed accelerator - first phase of the Canada Center of Nuclear Physics - was dedicated in the presence of government leaders, scientists and prominent guests from Canada and Israel.
Rehovot's new "space-age" accelerator towers were designed by the Israeli architect Moshe Harel, whose many commissions include several other buildings on the Weizmann Institute campus. The structure was so devised that one tower encloses the Pelletron itself and is topped by a two-story, egg-shaped dome which contains a spacious ion source laboratory on one level and a visitors' gallery, encircled by floor-to-ceiling windows, on the next. Alongside and joined to the accelerator tower at six levels stands its twin, holding the "guts" of the building - cables, piping, emergency staircase and elevators for freight and passengers who, protected from radiation, can move up and down with impunity while the accelerator is in operation.
The function of a nuclear accelerator has been compared to that of a microscope; the smaller the object examined, the larger the microscope you will need. When the object is as minute as an atomic nucleus - about one ten-thousandth of the size of an atom - scrutinizing it requires a very large microscope indeed!
Prof. Gvirol Goldring, the Weizmann Institute physicist who coordinated the accelerator project and heads the Canada Center, explains the purpose of the new research facility: "We are interested in such questions as shapes of nuclei, their internal organization, and their interactions with each other. That is the overall view of nuclear physics; each generation of physicists brings the nucleus closer and closer into focus. We all have our own specific research directions, targets and particular areas of interest within this broad expanse of research, but whatever the area, if you want to study nuclei you must have an accelerator."
There are many different types of accelerators; the family to which the Pelletron belongs - that of the electrostatic accelerators - is conceptually one of the simplest, in which the charged particles are accelerated by a static field. Because of the high quality of the beam they produce, electrostatic accelerators are now preferred over other types of accelerators for the study of nuclear structure.
One of the most advanced experimental tools in existence, the Koffler Accelerator, operated jointly by the Weizmann Institute, the Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, is a new national resource serving physicists both here and abroad and providing Israel with an excellent training ground for tomorrow's scientists.
The stamp depicts the Accelerator building at the Weizmann Institute. The tab inscription is: "The Koffler Accelerator at the Weizmann Institute."