Shinji Machida
03 May 2019



Shinji Machida was awarded an Individual Merit promotion in 2017. Here we get to know a bit more about him, and what led to his promotion.


Shinji has spent his life studying high intensity beam dynamics, and is now one of the top theoretical/experimental accelerator physicists in the world. He has been with STFC for twelve years, initially as part of ASTeC. In October 2016, when the Intense Beams group moved to ISIS, he became group leader.

Shinji’s career started at National Laboratory for High Energy Physics (KEK) in Japan. Soon after, he chose his PhD study in high energy accelerators in the USA, awarded by the University of Tokyo. Then he took up a post at the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) in Texas, USA. The SSC was an ambitious project to build a particle accelerator along the lines of the LHC, with a 87.1 km ring that would make it the largest and most energetic accelerator in the world. Shinji’s role was designing part of the accelerator, using code he had developed during his PhD as a base.

Unfortunately in 1993, after over a quarter of the tunnel had been built, the project was cancelled, but not before Shinji had almost completed the design. He took the opportunity to return to Japan, bringing with him the code he had developed for the SSC, called SIMPSONS. Initially he worked on upgrading the existing KEK accelerator for K2K experiment but soon he was moved to a new project – developing the accelerators that would become J-PARC. This was a real challenge, not least in the increased beam power from a few tens of kW at KEK to a MW for J-PARC.

Shinji led an accelerator design team and his innovative ideas were key to the success of the facility... although he wasn’t there to see his success as he had already moved to the UK to join ASTeC! "The design was almost finished", explains Shinji. "The accelerator wasn’t built but the parameters were fixed and achievable. I thought, given the brilliant team members there, it should work!" Sure enough, the machine worked according to specifications from the first time it was switched on!

Shinji joined ASTeC in 2005, where plans were underway to develop a neutrino factory, based on a proton accelerator. "It was a real feather in STFC’s cap to bring Shinji in to work on the design", explains Susan Smith, Director of ASTeC. The Neutrino Factory itself never came into being, but as part of the project Shinji led the design and construction of EMMA, a prototype accelerator known as an FFAG (Fixed Field Alternating Gradient).

"EMMA was the most prominent aspect of the Neutrino Factory research and development programme", continues Susan. "Shinji recognised that in addition to underpinning a neutrino factory the FFAG could have many applications, such as proton and ion therapy, accelerators for nuclear waste transmutation, and as the base for a future neutron spallation source."

It is this last application that Shinji expects to work on for ISIS. "I’ve always liked to look at the future and where technology could be applied", enthused Shinji. "One possibility for ISIS is to replace the current synchrotron with an FFAG, which would give ISIS more flexibility, more neutrons and therefore experiments could be done more quickly and more efficiently."

This time Shinji hopes to stay until the machine becomes reality. "If it works, it is still 20 years off! But I have built my career on high intensity beam dynamics and designing novel types of accelerators, and here I have the unique opportunity to bring those together to see what the future could hold!"​

Contact: de Laune, Rosie (STFC,RAL,ISIS)