Post Mortem

Accelerator Physics in North East India

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/6/2021 1:28:32 PM IST

 When it comes to Physics or Mathematics, Nagaland is lagging behind. Of course, this gap with the rest of the world is closing day by day. There are some young generations of Nagas who have taken up this path of physics and mathematics, which few dared to. And they are doing quite well. The main reason for the existing lacuna in this field of science can be attributed to lack of opportunity and priming.

However, new opportunities are unfolding gradually and one such project is the Cotton University Particle Accelerator Centre - North East Collaboration (CUPAC-NE). The CUPAC-NE collaboration is a proposed research facility that is going to occupy an earmarked five acre land in the Bhomora Campus of Cotton University, Guwahati. This project has been initiated this year by the Physics Department of Cotton University and should help in bringing cutting edge research to the hands of researchers of the entire North East. Estimated at a budget of more than Rupees Three Hundred crores, the construction of the main apparatus - the 5 Mega Volt Pelletron will be started in the year 2026, that is, after completion of civil works. The entire project will be completed within 15 years. Within this time frame it is expected that 120 Junior Research Fellows, (40 JRFs for every five years) will be involved in research from subjects like Archeology, Anthropology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Geology, Life Sciences, Material Sciences, Nuclear Medicine and Physics.

The chief component of this facility is the pelletron accelerator - a physics “apparatus” that speeds up elementary particles like protons (a proton is one of the primary constituents of any atom) to high energies. These high energy protons can be used for investigating properties of matter and at the same time used to generate other types of particles like neutrons and muons after collision with specific targets. Such neutrons can be further used for other forms of investigative research and applications. There would also be a Positive Ion Mass Spectroscopy (PIMS) Facility for radiocarbon dating with unprecedented sensitivity. The PIMS is expected to be commissioned by 2026.

Some of the specific research that is expected to be conducted in CUPAC-NE are -

1. Studies in nuclear physics reactions, some of which will help in understanding processes in astrophysical events.

2. Nano and nuclear material studies using Swift Heavy Ions.

3. Trace Element Analysis / Neutron Activation Analysis as a tool for Geological, Archeological, Environmental and Life Science investigations.

4. A micro beam line for research in Life Sciences.

5. Radiocarbon Dating of objects of interest from archaeological and geological sciences to establish quantitative history.

One of the highlights of this project is the development of a facility for treatment of brain cancer with a method known as Accelerator Driven Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (ADBNCT). The revolutionary ADBNCT is currently undergoing clinical trials in many developed Nations.

The vision of this facility is to nurture and generate young accelerator physicists and technologists from the North Eastern region and at the same time conduct world class research in fundamental and applied sciences, and technologies. Any student from Institutions located in the Seven Sister States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura) and Sikkim would get the opportunity to conduct research in this facility and interested institutions are always welcomed to become members of this Collaboration. From Nagaland, at present, Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung is a collaborating institution, but it is expected that more institutions from the state will join too.

It should also be known that this discovery class accelerator of CUPAC-NE is going to be the first of its kind in the Nation and the second in the whole world.

Abhijit Borah

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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