Muons are point-like particles that are like electrons, except they are 200 times heavier, and are unstable. In fact, muons live for only two-millionths of a second before they decay. That doesn’t sound very long, but it is just long enough to collect them, form them into a beam, and either accelerate them to high energy or stop them in a target. This is good because muons provide a unique tool for addressing fundamental questions in physics, or for exploring the properties of materials. The challenge is to get enough muons to do the job, and to concentrate them within a small target, or within a very bright beam.
The Muon Accelerator R&D program is focused on developing the concepts and technologies needed to make vast quantities of muons (of order 1014 per second), reduce their energy-spread so that they can be captured within bunches, and form them into a very bright beam that can be either stopped or accelerated.
Beyond this, the MAP program is focused on developing two particularly exciting applications that use this very bright muon beam: Neutrino Factories and Muon Colliders.