The Cockcroft Institute is a partnership between the universities of Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester and Strathclyde and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, devoted to the development and construction of particle accelerators and intense sources of radiation for pure and applied research.

CI entrance

Science has underpinned human progress for centuries. It has improved our quality of life and helps us understand our place in the Universe. The days when important breakthroughs could be achieved by a researcher working alone in a laboratory with minimal equipment are long gone. Now, the most important insights in science demand that researchers work in teams, collaborating between universities and laboratories and across national boundaries, often hand-in-hand with expert industrial partners. They also demand the best and most sophisticated equipment.

The Cockcroft Institute reflects these changes. Its purpose is to research, design and develop particle accelerators, machines that can be used to reveal the nature of matter, to probe what happened at the instant the universe was born and to develop new materials and medicines to improve our quality of life. These machines are at the cutting-edge of technology, pushing to the limits our ability to control and understand processes happening at the smallest scales, and at the speed of light. They range from very small instruments built to manipulate a difficult process to large sources of particles to create and probe the innermost workings of atoms. The global economy can afford only a few of these latter machines and so they demand collaboration between multi-national teams of the world’s best scientists and engineers.

The Cockcroft Institute – a collaboration between academia, national laboratories, industry and local economy – brings together the best accelerator scientists, engineers, educators and industrialists to conceive, design, construct and use innovative instruments of discovery at all scales and lead the UK’s participation in flagship international experiments. It cultures the curiosity of emerging minds via education of the future generation and engages with industrial partners to generate wealth for the community that sustains us.

The Institute provides the intellectual focus, educational infrastructure and the essential scientific and technological facilities for accelerator science and technology research and development, which will enable UK scientists and engineers to take a major role in innovating future tools for scientific discoveries and in the conception, design, construction and use of the world’s leading research accelerators for the foreseeable future. It not only designs, build and operates new accelerators but also carries out a broad based R&D programme on the fundamental science and technology which underpins conventional and novel particle acceleration techniques.

The CI was proposed in September 2003 and officially opened by the UK Minister for Science, Lord Sainsbury, in September 2006. It is located at Daresbury Laboratory and is adjacent to the Daresbury Innovation Centre. The Scottish Centre for the Applications of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA) at the University of Strathclyde provides a complementary set of experimental facilities to those available at Daresbury.

The Institute is named after the Nobel prize winner Sir John Cockcroft FRS. Born in Todmorden in north west England, and educated in part in Manchester, he is regarded as the pioneer of modern accelerator research.