Milestone-Proposal:First 500 MeV proton beam from the worlds largest cyclotron


Docket #:2009-08

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone Nomination

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Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old?

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution)

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity?

Was it of at least regional importance?

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)?

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony?

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated?

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

First 500 MeV proton beam from the worlds largest cyclotron

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?


IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Vancouver
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Vancouver
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Vancouver
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

TRIUMF Laboratory, 4004 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, CANADA V6T 2A3

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.

The plaque will be installed outside the cyclotron main control room near the site dedication plaque. (The first successful beam extraction was manually controlled from the main console in that room.)

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

TRIUMF Laboratory, 4004 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 2A3 Lat  49.2474,  Lon -123.229544 The plaque will be installed on a wall outside the cyclotron main control room near the site dedication plaque. TRIUMF conducts frequent public tours for students and the public.  All tours include a stop at this location.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

The site is owned by TRIUMF; the surrounding land is secured through a 99-year lease arrangement with the University of British Columbia.

A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:

A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

By providing intermediate energy proton beams that are two orders of magnitude more intense than were previously available, the TRIUMF cyclotron (and its two sister meson factories in the United States and Europe) have revolutionized nuclear physics, particle physics, molecular and materials science, and nuclear medicine.   The quality of the initial design and engineering and the significance of the result are underscored by the longevity of the TRIUMF cyclotron. Thirty-five years after the first 500 MeV proton beam was extracted, the cyclotron is still the main engine of TRIUMF’s world-leading research program which currently includes meson physics, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, nuclear medicine and irradiation services for industry.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

Compared to the first and second generation of cyclotrons, the physical size of TRIUMF is truly impressive.  The main magnet is 18 metres in diameter and weighs 4000 tons. The 23 MHz main RF amplifier delivers almost 1 million watts of power in order to develop 200 kV across the accelerating gap.   During the design and construction of the cyclotron between 1969 and 1974, the sheer scale of the effort required TRIUMF staff and contractors to develop revolutionary computer-assisted design, modelling, measurement and tuning technologies in an era dominated by mainframes and minicomputers.  Some of these codes, e.g., RELAX3D - a Laplace and Poisson equation solver, are still in use today. Because of its size, TRIUMF was one of the first particle accelerators to employ a software-based supervisory control and data acquisition system rather than direct linkage of cyclotron and beamline components to a hardware-based control panel.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

TRIUMF is the world's largest cyclotron, and one of only three intermediate-energy high-intensity accelerators in the world. It pioneered the production and acceleration of H- ions and the use of an AVF (azimuthally varying field) main magnet. Unlike the world's other two intermediate-energy high-intensity accelerators (located near Zurich and Los Alamos, respectively), the TRIUMF cyclotron can deliver both low-intensity variable energy proton beams and high intensity intermediate energy proton beams with a 100% macroscopic duty cycle. The high intensity of the beam also allows the cyclotron to serve as the driver for multiple experiments within the course of a week. The TRIUMF cyclotron’s ability to provide steady, intense and reliable energy beams in a flexible manner has also allowed the facility to become a world leader in providing beams of exotic isotopes using the

References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.