Heavy Ion Accelerators

World-leading accelerators for Australian science and industry

Heavy Ion Accelerators

World-leading accelerators for Australian science and industry

The Heavy Ion Accelerators NCRIS project operates world-leading particle accelerators for a wide variety of scientific and industrial applications, for users from Australia and around the world. The project consists of three nodes: the Australian National University Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility, the Australian Facility for Advanced Ion Implantation Research and the University of Melbourne Experimental Condensed Matter Physics Accelerator Laboratory.

Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF)

HIAF hosts the 15 million volt 14UD Tandem van de Graaff accelerator and a 6 million volt equivalent superconducting linac booster. The facility, operated by users, runs 24/7 for between 3500 and 5000 hours per year and delivers beams of nearly any element to one of eleven beam lines. HIAF supports a wide range of fundamental and applied science, including nuclear physics, astrophysics, medical physics, resource extraction, environmental science and space radiation.

Australian Facility for Advanced Ion Implantation Research (AFAiiR)

AFAiiR operates a coordinated suite of small accelerators, up to 1.7 million volts, for physics, engineering and materials science research. Applications include microelectronics, photonics, nanotechnology, photovoltaics and quantum devices. The unique ion-implantation capabilities attract a broad national and international user base.

Experimental Condensed Matter Physics Laboratory (ECMP)

ECMP operates a nuclear ion microprobe, for state-of-the-art imaging and microanalysis, with applications in atom manipulation, nanofabrication, minerals and mining exploration. ECMP is a partner in the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence for Quantum Computing and Technology (CQC2T), and hosts a joint program with the CSIRO Division of Exploration and Mining on the analysis of geological materials.

Interested in accessing the HIA accelerators?

Australian and international researchers and companies are using HIA facilities for everything from environmental tracing to space radiation. For details of how to access or visit HIA facilities, please contact us.

Science and Applications

HIA accelerators are used for a wide variety of research and applications.

Mapping Australia's Minerals

The microprobe at ECMP is used to analyse the elemental composition of rock samples to make mineral extraction more efficient. Image credit: ECMP Group at the University of Melbourne and CSIRO Mineral Exploration Clayton

Quantum and Nuclear Physics

The HIAF accelerators are used to study the fundamental quantum mechanics of nuclei and what happens when they collide.Image credit: Ed Simpson.

Quantum Computing

HIA accelerators are being used in the pioneering manufacture of the building blocks of quantum computing. Image credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology.

Material Modification

High energy ion beams can be used to created nanoscale pores in materials, which can then be used in water filtration systems. Image credit: Patrick Kluth and Christian Nothoff.

Understanding our Environment

HIA accelerators are used to understand soil erosion and the Great Barrier Reef by tracing tiny quantities of radioactive isotopes in the environment. Image credit: Steve Tims.

Understanding the Universe

Experiments explore how elements are made in stars, search for evidence of supernovae here on Earth and help in the search for dark matter. Image credit: NASA and STScl.

Explore Australia's highest energy ion accelerator

Take a look around the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility at the Australian National University, and find our what the middle of a 15 million volt particle accelerator looks like!


The Heavy Ion Accelerator Project provides accelerated ions beams for a wide range of capabilities and services.

Nuclear Science

HIAF has extensive capabilities for nuclear science, including the Caesar Compton-Suppressed Germanium array, the Hyperfine Spectrometer, the CUBE fission spectrometer, the Super-e Electron Spectrometer, two solenoidal separators, and the BALiN Double-Sided Silicon Strip Detector Array. More information on these capabilities can be found at the ANU Department of Nuclear Physics website.

Materials Analysis: Rutherford Backscattering

Rutherford Backscattering Spectrometry (RBS) and channelling analysis (RBS-C) can be used to analyse the composition and structure of materials. RBS is available using He+ and H+ beams (0.5-3 MeV) at both AFAiiR and ECMP .

Materials analysis: ERD and PIXE

Elastic recoil detection (ERD) for hydrogen profiling is available at AFAiiR. Particle-Induced X-ray emission (PIXE) analysis is available at ECMP with sub-micron spatial resolution.

Ion Implantation

AFAiiR operates both low energy (10 keV to 175 keV) and high energy (200 keV to several MeV) ion implanters. ECMP operates a low energy Colutron ion implanter, housed in a clean-room, capable of implanting argon, nitrogen and phosphorous ions.

Space Radiation

The high energy beams available at HIAF are ideal for mimicking the low-Earth orbit radiation environment, and HIAF is developing capabilities for space radiation testing. Currently available tests include LET measurements for shielding, dosimeter and detector testing, and irradiation of satellite components.

Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

HIAF operates two beamlines with velocity filters and sophisticated ion detectors for world-leading accelerator mass spectrometry. One beamline houses a gas-filled magnetic separator and position sensitive multi-anode gas ionisation detector for rare isotope accelerator mass spectrometry. Isotopes such as 26Al, 36Cl, and 60Fe can be measured for a range for astrophysical, environmental, and industrial applications. More information on this capability can be found at the Department of Nuclear Physics website.

Management Team

Heavy Ion Accelerators is a collaboration between the Australian National University and the University of Melboune, with support from the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

David Hinde

Director of the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility

Rob Elliman

Director of the Australian Facility for Advanced Ion Implantation Research

Jeffrey McCallum

Director of the Experimental Condensed Matter Laboratory