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Toshiba's Technology contributted to the Discovery of the Higgs Boson.

History of Toshiba accelerator development and the future perspectives and visions

In this final interview, the history of Toshiba accelerator development and the future perspectives and visions are presented by Kiyokazu Sato, Principal Engineer at Toshiba Keihin Product Operations, an expert in accelerators who is engaged in numerous projects over the years.

History of Toshiba Accelerator Development


Sato talks about the history and future perspectives on the development in acclerators.


The cyclotron electromagnet for particle acceleration used from 1966 to 1990. Currently, the magnet is displayed at the front gate of the RIKEN headquarters. (Source: RIKEN.)

Since the early 1900s, Toshiba has manufactured transmitters with vacuum tubes as well as television sets with Braun tubes. Vacuum and Braun tubes, to which technologies for emitting and accelerating electrons are applied, are one type of accelerators commonly used in our daily lives. Also, expertise in coil fabrication for large motors/generators is essential for manufacturing electromagnets for accelerators. Based on the applications of these technologies and experience gained over the years, Toshiba delivered various types of accelerators and related systems to leading research institutions and experimental facilities in Japan and overseas.

Toshiba delivered a cyclotron for ion acceleration to the Institute for Nuclear Study at Tokyo University in 1957 and to RIKEN in 1966. Based on its own R&D efforts, Toshiba developed Japan's first liner accelerator and its RF power source in 1959, followed by the delivery as the first product ever developed and commercialized in Japan to AISIT Chubu in 1960. Furthermore, the Company supplied an accelerator system for synchrotron radiation *1 to its client in 1987.

In recent years, Toshiba delivered accelerator systems to SPring-8 *2 in 1996, the world's largest synchrotron radiation facility, as well as to the Aichi Synchrotron Radiation Center *3 in 2012. Currently, Toshiba-supplied accelerators are in use at numerous advanced research institutions and experimental facilities in Japan and overseas, including Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) *4.

Toshiba's manufacturing capability accumulated from early stages as well as continued efforts led to the achievements as a leading accelerator supplier to these state-of-the-art research institutions and experimental facilities. In the future, Toshiba will continue to make its efforts in providing technical expertise to the fields of cutting-edge science, including the participation to the International Linear Collider (ILC) project *5.

*1 As electrons travel within a circular accelerator, the electromagnetic field located around the electrons is emitted outside the circle. As a result, a strong radiation is emitted. The light, called synchrotron radiation, is used for experiments.
*2 SPring-8 is one of RIKEN's synchrotron radiation experimental facilities, located in Hyogo prefecture, Japan. Toshiba supplied a complete set of synchrotron system and RF systems for a linear accelerator and a storage ring.
*3 The Aichi Synchrotron Radiation Center is an experimental facility located in Aichi-prefecture, Japan. Toshiba supplied a complete set of accelerator system, including a linear accelerator, a booster synchrotron and a storage ring.
*4 Located in Ibaragi-prefecture, Japan, Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) is jointly operated by High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) and Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA).
*5 Following the LHC, the ILC is a project to construct a large-scale accelerator with the main purpose of conducting more extensive examinations of the Higgs Boson. Currently, the project is in the planning stage.

Future Prospects Related to the Application of Accelerator Technology

While accelerators are best-known for use in advanced physics research, the technology has already been applied to many areas closely related our lives.

For example, several types of accelerators are applied to the X-ray screening systems currently used in the airports and container yards, as well as sterilization of medical instruments, X-ray imaging and the radiation therapy in the hospitals. Now, thanks to this technology, highly-accurate analytical techniques are available for drug development, analyses of archaeological materials and forensic investigations. In fact, an accelerator was used for the analysis of the micro particles that the small space probe "HAYABUSA" brought back from the asteroid "ITOKAWA." Similarly in the electronics/storage devices and the energy sectors, it is anticipated that new inventions in materials and associated improvement can enhance the performance of semiconductors, fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries. As widely publicized already, in the biotechnology sector, blue roses were created successfully; the R&D efforts in developing crops that can survive in cold temperatures and drought conditions are in progress.

In the healthcare sector, accelerators already are applied to heavy ion radiotherapy system for cancer treatment *6. Currently, Toshiba is in a process of manufacturing a rotating gantry, equipped with superconducting magnets *7, for Japan's National Institute of Radiological Science (NIRS). Due to its specialty in winding superconducting coils around the pipe curving along the path of heavy ion beam, Toshiba reduced in size and weight as well as achieving the 360-degree rotation for the irradiation port. The system allows the patients to receive treatment from any direction without changing their positions, which helps to ease their physical and psychological burdens.


Images for the rotating gantry, equipped with superconducting magnets (left) and the treatment room (center); Toshiba specialty in winding coils around the curved pipe (right)

With regard to the future perspectives, the followings could be addressed as areas to which accelerators can be applied. These include the experiments to reveal the entire process of photosynthesis; activities related to radioactive waste processing; and inventions of radiation-resistant materials and electronic devices, which are critical to the development of a nuclear fusion reactor and space exploration. Also, a new cancer treatment method *8 could be developed, in which medical personnel irradiate accelerator-generated neutrons only on the targeted cells. In the future, with the help of accelerator, the scientists may be able to generate muons *9 artificially to use their characteristics in transparency for observing and forecasting volcanic eruptions.

*6 At the Kanagawa Cancer Center in Kanagawa-prefecture, Japan, a treatment using the Toshiba heavy ion radiotherapy system is scheduled to begin in FY2015.
*7 The delivery of the world's first rotating gantry, equipped with superconducting magnets, is scheduled in March 2015. (Press releases)
*8 A cancer treatment method, called "Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT). " In this method, boron atoms are concentrated in cancer cells, and then, those targeted cells are irradiated with neutrons so that even small, invisible tumors could be destroyed.
*9 Muons are one of the major cosmic rays with the ability to penetrate even volcano. Approximately, one muon penetrates through the area equivalent to the palm of our hand every second.

Pursuing What Toshiba Can Provide

"...Toshiba supplied many accelerators over the years. In the meanwhile, we also made efforts in developing our expertise in superconducting magnets, power supplies, I&C, robotics and a variety of other technical disciplines. These combined efforts, based on the multidisciplinary approach, worked positively one another so that we can provide the world's top level expertise to our clients," describes Sato.

One of Toshiba's strengths is that the Company provides cutting edge technology to our clients, compiling all ranges of expertise and experience gained through the wide-spread technical disciplines and businesses.

"...Relates to our contributions to the discovery of the Higgs boson, we continue to respond to human desire to 'know the truth'. This is our 'Never-ending Spirit of Inquiry' as it is stated in our Company Vision. We continue to be committed to people and the future, providing high-quality products and services," concludes Sato.

During this three interview series, we presented the topics that included Toshiba's technical contributions to the Nobel Prize-awarded discovery of the Higgs Boson to the applications of related technology to our lives.

We continue to be committed to people and make our efforts in technological development for the prosperous future.

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