The BaBar and Belle B factories proved so successful that they have spawned a study for a successor: the SuperB factory. The proposal in Italy to build such a machine, which would produce electron–positron collisions 100 times more intense than the BaBar B factory's PEP-II storage ring, is gaining momentum, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory researchers are major players in the research and development efforts.
"There are many ways in which SLAC could be involved in SuperB in the future," said David MacFarlane, deputy director of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at the laboratory. "SLAC has key expertise to bring to this project, based on our experience building and operating the PEP-II collider and BaBar."
As R&D efforts ramp up around the world, SLAC researchers are getting involved, with two small new departments created in the laboratory's Particle Physics and Astrophysics directorate earlier this month. The newly fledged SuperB Accelerator Department, led by Mike Sullivan, will soon begin work on several components of the SuperB collider, including the electromagnets, vacuum chambers, radio frequency systems and power supplies. The SuperB Detector Department, led by David Leith, is likely to work on the electromagnetic calorimeter, which measures the energy of particles, as well as research and development towards a new readout system for the particle identification system.
SLAC may also contribute existing accelerator and detector components to the project. The conceptual design, as it currently stands, will reuse many PEP-II parts if they are not needed in the United States, as well as several detector systems from BaBar. These components would offset a significant fraction of the costs for SuperB and would represent a significant enabling contribution by the Department of Energy and the US high-energy physics community.
"SLAC has been a leading steward to electron accelerator physics in the US, leaving a very special fingerprint on the world—with experiment, accelerator and theory all working very closely together," said Leith. "The laboratory's involvement in SuperB would continue that."
A proposal for this next-generation machine is already well underway, and the project's 150 international collaborators—including many current and former BaBar scientists—plan to present it to the Italian government later this year. Official Italian approval for the conceptual design, which is hoped for by the end of the year, would allow civil construction on the machine's tunnels and buildings to begin at the University of Rome campus near the Frascati physics laboratory.
Researchers began work on SuperB's more detailed technical design report at a workshop last month in France. This report, which is made possible through initial funding by the Italian government and the regional government of Lazio, should be completed by 2011. It will describe in detail a machine that could not only uniquely investigate the effects of any new physics results that come out of the Large Hadron Collider, but could also offer brand new tests of CP violation, which is thought to explain why the universe is composed of matter and not antimatter. While SLAC's B factory studied CP violation in B mesons, SuperB could reach unprecedented levels of precision in extending these studies while also allowing new studies of the lepton sector by expanding CP violation searches to polarized tau leptons.
"It opens a door to an entirely new world of looking at lepton CP violation, and can also tell us more about any LHC finding," said Leith. "It's a very exciting discovery machine."