Fusion Science and Ion Beam Technology


The heart of an R&D 100 winner

In the Fusion Science and Ion Beam Technology Program in the ATAP Division at Berkeley Lab, we are changing what's possible in the science and technology of particle accelerators and their applications.  

Please look around in our website to find more info on our current projects, for example,  a new class of compact multi-beam ion accelerators that are based on stack of low cost wafers.

Building on ATAP’s history of excellence in particle accelerator R&D the FS & IBT program develops particle beam and plasma technologies including ion sources, compact ion beam systems, neutron and gamma-ray generators. Applications of these beam and plasma technologies are remarkably wide-ranging: detecting hidden explosives and nuclear materials with neutron and gamma-ray generators, coating surfaces with protective films, making nano-devices and color centers for quantum information processing, and imaging of carbon in soil. Our goal is to have a transformational impact in critical areas of scientific and national needs.

With a project portfolio clustered around core competencies in plasma generators, ion sources, and beam transport, we are pursuing R&D opportunities that support the mission of the US Department of Energy and map to the strategic goals of DOE Office of Science Programs and the goals of other DOE and federal offices.  Current directions include new opportunities in quantum information science, homeland security, and energy science and conservation.

Efficient Polarization of Nuclear Spins With Electrical Currents in Transistors

Nuclear spins can achieve very long coherence times, which makes them prime candidates as information carriers in advanced computing, including quantum computing. But what’s needed is an effective method for getting spin started at the onset of a computation. A team from Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley, and the National High Magnetic Field Lab, including ATAP’s Cheuk Chi Lo, Christopher Weis, Jeff Bokor, and Thomas Schenkel, have demonstrated that nuclear spins of phosphorus atoms can be efficiently initialized by controlling the electrical current in silicon transistors. Controlling currents locally enables nuclear spin control in dense quantum bit arrays.

In the News

"Team develops new method of hunting for carbon in soil without digging or taking soil samples"

Article about our project to build a new instrument to measure carbon in soil at phys.org (2022-03-31).

About FS-IBT

The Ion Beam Technology Program was formed in 1993 to integrate several activities in which ATAP had built up special expertise—notably in the Bevalac (a heavy-ion synchrotron) and a program in magnetic fusion energy. The common theme is expertise in ion sources, low-energy ion acceleration systems, and plasma science.

Now part of the Fusion Science & Ion Beam Technology Program, we continue seeking and developing opportunities to have a transformational impact in critical areas. Besides the efforts described here to address homeland-security vulnerabilities and to serve the hardware needs of the semiconductor and information-processing communities, one of our key responsibilities remains service to ion-accelerator-based projects in the Department of Energy and elsewhere.

Thanks in large part to our work on the multi-laboratory Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) team, we are widely regarded as the “go-to” laboratory for the technically challenging front end of an accelerator—the series of initial components that give a beam the highest-quality start. We stand ready to contribute to other national research priorities, such as a rare isotope accelerator, SNS upgrades, and advanced proton drivers for neutrino research.

Between January 2006 and May 2007, the work done by IBT staff has been reported in some 53 publications overall, 30 of which appeared in refereed proceedings and journals. The creativity and innovation of the staff is especially noteworthy: fourteen US patents have been awarded from 2000 to the present. In 2006, R&D Magazine recognized the neutron generator work with an R&D 100 Award, and in 2009, another R&D 100 was bestowed upon a diamondlike-carbon coating system for hard drive read/write heads (won jointly with our industrial partner Veeco). The latter was the tenth R&D 100 (out of LBNL's total of 52) awarded wholly or in part to IBT or its predecessors.

Like other ATAP programs, IBT is embedded in a resource-rich, multi-disciplinary environment that includes other LBNL divisions and the University of California, especially the adjacent Berkeley campus. Taken together, these provide opportunities for collaboration and promote rapid progress that our staff has put to good advantage. In addition, over a period of many years we have developed within IBT an extensive—and in many ways unique—array of test stands and experimental equipment to carry out our work.

The work carried out by IBT is highly collaborative in nature. We presently have over 30 active collaborations with industry, universities, other national laboratories and institutes. With only 4 permanent career scientists, we benefit enormously from the dozens of participating guests, students, engineers and technical support staff who are essential contributors to the productivity of the program. Students form a vital part of that effort; 12 PhDs have been awarded since 1997 based on work performed in whole or in part in IBT, and we expect 4 more to be awarded within the next year.


We often host international and UCB graduate students for one or more years. If you are a graduate student who would like to join us in our work, please feel free to contact Thomas Schenkel or a person working on the specific project that you are interested in.

Contact FS&IBT 


Thomas Schenkel: T_Schenkel@lbl.gov

Qing Ji: QJi@lbl.gov

Arun Persaud: APersaud@lbl.gov

Mail address: 

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

1 Cyclotron Road, M/S 71R0259

Berkeley, CA 94720-8232