A multimillion-dollar instrument that propels subatomic particles to high speeds will have many high-tech applications for researchers at Fayetteville State University, an administrator says.

Other researchers working with similar particle accelerators have helped build better artificial hearts and enhanced the military’s abilities to detect roadside bombs. There even is research into converting human body heat into electricity, which would help soldiers in combat zones.

FSU is in the process of getting the $5 million particle accelerator and about $3 million in other instruments. Daryush Ila, associate vice chancellor for research, said he hopes to have the equipment up and running in 12 to 18 months.

The Naval Research Laboratory in Washington is donating the equipment to FSU because it is moving to a new facility that is not large enough for the accelerator. FSU competed with several other universities for the instruments.

Ila said the instruments will allow researchers at FSU to ionize atoms so they gain or lose electrons, and accelerate the ions to about a tenth the speed of light. The scientists can then use the ions to study materials, modify materials and make new devices. The accelerator, which looks like a large concrete tube with instruments on either end, does not emit any radiation, Ila said.

Next week, he is going to Washington to begin preparations for moving the accelerator and other components, which will require two or three tractor-trailers. FSU Chancellor James Anderson told the university’s board of trustees in September that it might cost $300,000 to move and store the accelerator.

“The cost of excellence is always high,” Anderson said.

FSU officials are planning a building for the accelerator next to a conference center on the site of the former Washington Drive school.

Ila came to FSU in May from Alabama A&M University, where he had served for more than 20 years in research and faculty positions. He was director and co-founder of a research program and helped establish partnerships that resulted in more than $125 million in grants and contracts, including about $40 million from the Department of Defense.

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