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The nine section LINAC

The Gaerttner LINAC Center’s research is centered about a multi-million dollar, high power, >60 MeV, L-band traveling wave, electron linear accelerator. The facility has provided the research community with faithful service since December of 1961 and is operated and maintained by a well trained staff. The staff consists of engineers and technicians trained in the use and operation of electrical, electronic, and radiation sources and monitoring equipment. The Gaerttner LINAC Center is located on Tibbits Ave in Troy, NY on the periphery of the institute’s main campus with adequate parking and easy access to experimental areas and apparatus. The LINAC today consists of nine RF accelerator sections that accelerate pulses of electrons to a maximum energy in excess of 60 MeV with peak target currents in excess of 3 amperes.
The electron beam can be extracted either after the third or ninth section. In this way it is capable of providing a high energy pulsed beam of electrons, in the range from 5 to more than 60 MeV. Typical operating conditions for three-section operation are: electron energy, 5 to 25 MeV; electron pulse width, from 7 nanoseconds to 5 microseconds; peak electron current, the order of amperes; average electron power, 10 kW or more; peak dose rate, 10 to 18 MeV,>10E11 Rads/sec in Silicon; repetition rate, single pulse to 500 pulses per second (PPS), subject to average power restrictions. For nine-section configuration: 25 to 60 MeV or more; pulse width, 5 nanoseconds to 5 microseconds; peak electron current, the order of amperes; average power of 10’s of kW; peak neutron production rate greater than 4x10E13/sec; repetition rate, single pulse to greater than 500 PPS, subject to average power limitations. These two ranges of energies allow the accelerator to be used for a variety of uses. In the range of 5 to 25 MeV the accelerator can provide an intense beam of low-energy electrons for radiation hardening and transient radiation measurements in electronics, transformation of materials through radiation, sterilization/radurization, etc. In the 25 to over 60 MeV range the accelerator can provide an intense beam of electrons for photoneutron production, nuclear reactor environment simulation, and high-energy Bremsstrahlung production.


The LINAC target area can accommodate large experimental apparatus, dimensions of over a meter can be accommodated at radiation energies of 25 MeV and above. In the vicinity of the 5 to 25 MeV port, space is provided for smaller items such as integrated electronic circuits, components, and material samples. Reconfiguration to meet the needs of new projects is common; these setups represent the configurations that are presently implemented.

LINAC Parameters
  Three Sections
Low E Port
Nine Sections
High E port
Electron Energy 5-25 MeV 25 - 60 MeV
Pulse Width 5-5000 ns 5-5000 ns
Peak Current 5 to 50 ns: 3A 5 to 50 ns: 3A
50-5000 ns: 400mA 50-5000 ns: 400mA
Average Power ~10 kW @ 17 MeV, 5000 ns ~10 kW @ 60 MeV, 5000 ns
Peak Doese Rate 1011 Rad/Sec (in Si) N/A
Neutron Production N/A ~4x1013 n/s
Pulse Repetition Rate <50 ns: 1-500 pps >50 ns: 1-300 pps
<50 ns: 1-500 pps >50 ns: 1-300 pps

The Gaerttner Center contains:

  • a large 70-ft-long by 30-ft-wide by 13-ft-high, fully shielded room with a 10-ton traveling crane,
  • several rooms and buildings outside the target area to accommodate instrumentation and other apparatus,
  • a machine shop to fabricate specialized apparatus,
  • radiation detection and dosimetry equipment,
  • numerous coaxial, triaxial, and communication cables to interconnect experimental apparatus,
  • a remote-controlled precision sled for electronics testing, and
  • a large selection of nuclear instrumentation and electronic test equipment.
Arrangements can be made to rent specific instrumentation not presently available at the center, with sufficient advanced notice.

The facility is setup for time of flight measurements with collimated flight paths at distances of: 15m, 25m, 30m, 35m, 45m, 100m and 250m. There are variety of detectors at the flight stations including:

  • Li-Glass and liquid scintillators (EJ-301) for neutron transmission.
  • Li-Glass and liquid scintillators (EJ-301) arrays for neutron scattering
  • NaI detector array and C6D6 detectors array for neutron capture
  • An array of BaF2 detectors for fission tagging and other applications.
  • Several plastic scintillator (EJ-204) used for low energy neutron detector
  • Variety of gamma detectors: CLYC, HPGE, LaBr and NaI