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Accelerator community comes together in Melbourne

11 July 2019

More than 1100 accelerator professionals gathered in Melbourne, Australia, from 19 to 24 May 2019 for the 10th International Particle Accelerator Conference, IPAC’19. The superb Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre could easily cater for the 85 scientific talks, 72 industrial exhibitors and sponsors, 1444 poster presentations and several social functions throughout the week. Record levels of diversity at IPAC’19 saw 42 countries represented from six continents, and a relatively high gender balance for the field, with a quarter of speakers identifying as women.

In the wake of the update of the European Strategy for Particle Physics in Granada in May, accelerator designs that advance the energy and intensity range of a next-generation discovery machine were discussed, but there is no clear statement as to which is best. It will be up to the particle-physics community to decide which capability is needed to reach the most interesting physics. Reports on mature hadron facilities such as Japan’s J-PARC and the LHC were balanced by the photon sources and electron accelerators that are becoming an increasingly robust presence at IPAC, and which comprised a fifth of contributions in 2019. Presentations on the most recently commissioned accelerators were a particular highlight, with Japan’s SuperKEKB collider, Korea’s PAL-XFEL free-electron laser and Sweden’s MAX IV light source taking centre stage.

Exciting progress in the field of plasma- wakefield accelerators was also reported. In particular, Europe’s EuPRAXIA collaboration is aiming to create a laser wakefield accelerator to drive a free-electron laser facility for users in the next few years. The scientific programme was bookended by local Australian-grown talent. Suzie Sheehy from the University of Melbourne described the successes of particle accelerators and some of the future challenges, while Henry Chapman, a director of the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science at DESY and the University of Hamburg, gave the closing plenary on how particle accelerators have enabled groundbreaking work in coherent X-ray science.

“In Unity” was chosen as the theme for IPAC’19 and art was commissioned from Torres Strait islander Kelly Saylor to symbolise this coming together of the particle-accelerator community. The success of IPAC’19 demonstrates the ongoing need for face-to-face meetings to share and communicate ideas and collaborate on pressing scientific problems. In a pioneering effort for the IPAC series, the opening and closing sessions were live-streamed to the world. The aim is to broaden the impact of the conference and highlight the importance of particle accelerators to many fields of science, industry and medical applications.

Student poster prizes were won by Nazanin Samadi, an Iranian PhD student at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, and Daniel Bafia of Fermilab and IIT. Among other awards, the Xie Jialin Prize went to Vittorio Vaccaro of the University of Naples, the Nishikawa Tetsuji Prize was won by Vladimir Shiltsev of Fermilab, the Hogil Kim Prize went to Xueqing Yan of Peking University, and the Mark Oliphant Prize was taken by Stanford PhD student James MacArthur.

IPAC takes place annually and alternates between Asia, Europe and the Americas. Next year it will move to Caen in France, and then to Brazil in 2021.

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