1. HRIBF Update and Near-Term
(J. R. Beene)
In the last issue of this newsletter, I began my "Update" with the sentence: "Fiscal 2006 will be a good year to get behind us." This has proved to be harder than was anticipated. As of January 2007, HRIBF is still operating under a Continuing Resolution, at the extremely austere funding levels of the fiscal 2006 budget. This budget is ~18% lower than the FY2007 President's Request. The FY2006 budget represented an approximately 7% cut compared to FY2005; it was inadequate to operate HRIBF efficiently and effectively, even on our 5-day per week schedule. Staff costs have risen about 10% since FY2006 and overall operating costs are about 7% higher. If the worst-case scenario of FY2007 funding at the FY2006 level comes to pass, we plan to cease facility operations in early April and remain in shutdown (at least for RIB operations) for the remainder of the fiscal year. HRIBF, of course, is not alone in facing severe difficulty if a full year at FY2006 levels comes to pass. This dire result erases substantial increases across many DOE Office of Science research programs. Nuclear physics is particularly hard hit because of the sharp cuts in the NP budget in FY2006.
RIB operations are off to an excellent start in FY2007, as we operated the facility aggressively in anticipation of the favorable funding in the Presidents Request. From October through the first week in December, when we shut down for scheduled maintenance, we provided over 700 hours of RIB to experiments out of 1115 total research hours. For the most part these were very difficult beams, including a very rewarding series of decay spectroscopic studies on short-lived Cu and Ga isotopes using post-accelerated beams of 76-79Cu and 83-85Ga (see item 3 of this newsletter). The longest-lived of these isotopes has a halflife of 0.65 seconds, and 84,85Ga have halflives less than 100 ms. This is a major achievement for our ISOL development group. It is worth noting that in the last six months before the December shut down, we delivered 1500 h of RIB to experiments. Well done! The tandem tank opening (see RA2 of this newsletter) is the major element of the shutdown. Prior to the shutdown, the tandem set a record for continuous operation without major maintenance. The availability of the HPTL has given us added flexibility to schedule full-power ISOL development work during the tandem shutdown. Unfortunately, the looming budget shortfall has forced us to limit HPTL operation to about two weeks during this period.
After the shutdown is complete in mid-March, we plan one week of stable beam delivery at low terminal voltage, followed by a six-week neutron-rich RIB campaign. At this point, we will shut down RIB operations if funding remains at FY2006 levels. If more favorable funding develops, as we expect, we plan to stage a radioactive fluorine campaign followed by another neutron-rich campaign of about 8 weeks each, with stable beam runs used to fill time for RIB target ion source changeovers, etc. We are extremely anxious to have the opportunity to demonstrate what we can accomplish with the level of funding which we had expected in FY2007.