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PHY 543: RF Superconductivity for Accelerators



Class meet time and dates Instructors

When: M, 6:05 pm - 8:00pm
Where: The course is taught remotely via Zoom. A Zoom meeting link was sent to registered students via email before the first lecture.

Prof. Sergey Belomestnykh
Dr. Sam Posen
Dr. Irina Petrushina


Course Overview

This graduate level course covers application of radio frequency (RF) superconductivity to contemporary particle accelerators: particle colliders, storage rings for X-ray production, pulsed and CW linear accelerators (linacs), energy recovery linacs (ERLs), etc. The course addresses both physics and engineering aspects of the field. It covers fundamentals of RF superconductivity, types of superconducting radio frequency (SRF) accelerating structures, performance-limiting phenomena, beam-cavity interaction issues specific to superconducting cavities, approaches to designing SRF systems and engineering of superconducting cavity cryomodules. The course is intended for students interested in accelerator physics and technology who want to learn about application of RF superconductivity to particle accelerators.

Course Content

  • The course includes a brief introduction of the basic concepts of microwave cavities and fundamental concepts of RF superconductivity.
  • Then it covers the beam-cavity interaction issues in accelerators: wake fields and higher-order modes (HOMs) in superconducting structures, associated bunched beam instabilities and approaches to deal with these instabilities (HOM absorbers and couplers, cavity geometry optimization, …), bunch length manipulation with SRF cavities, beam loading effects, etc.
  • Following that we discuss a systems approach and its application to SRF systems for accelerators.
  • We discuss the ways in which the superconducting material, and in particular the surface, can be modified to improve quality factor and accelerating gradient.
  • Finally, we address issues related to engineering of the SRF system components: cryostats, cavities, input couplers, HOM loads, and frequency tuners.

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to understand the physics underlying RF superconductivity and its application to accelerators, as well as the advantages and limitations of SRF technology. The aim is to provide students with ideas and approaches that enable them to evaluate and solve problems related to the application of superconducting cavities to accelerators, as well actively participate in the development of SRF systems for various accelerators.

Main Texts and suggested materials

While all necessary material will be provided during lectures, we recommend the following textbook for in-depth study of the subject:

  • RF Superconductivity for Accelerators, by H. Padamsee, J. Knobloch, and T. Hays, John Wiley & Sons, 2nd edition (2008).

Other Reading Recommendations  It is recommended that students re-familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of electrodynamics at the level of

  • Fields and Waves in Communication Electronics (Chapters 1 through 11) by S. Ramo, J. R. Whinnery, and T. Van Duzer, John Wiley & Sons, 3rd edition (1994)
  • Classical Electrodynamics (Chapters 1 through 8) by J. D. Jackson, John Wiley & Sons, 3rd edition (1999)

or other similar textbooks.   Additional reference books:

  • Handbook of Accelerator Physics and Engineering, edited by A. W. Chao, K. H. Mess, M. Tigner, and F. Zimmermann, World Scientific, 2nd Edition (2013)
  • RF Superconductivity: Science, Technology, and Applications, by H. Padamsee, Wiley-VCH (2009)

Online resources:

  • The Physics of Electron Storage Rings: An Introduction, by M. Sands
  • Microwave Theory and Applications, by S. F. Adam
  • High Energy Electron Linacs: Applications to Storage Ring RF Systems and Linear Colliders, by Perry B. Wilson


Students will be evaluated based on the following performance criteria: final exam (50%), homework assignments and class participation (50%). Credits earned upon successful completion of this course can be applied toward receiving a Certificate in Accelerator Science and Engineering under the Ernest Courant Traineeship in Accelerator Science & Engineering.

Lecture Notes


  • [ HW1] Due February 22
  • [ HW2] Due March 8
  • [ HW3] Due March 29
  • [ HW4] Due April 19

Homework review sessions

  • Session 1, March 1
  • Session 2, March 15
  • Session 3, April 5
  • Session 4, April 26

[ Final Exam] due May 10