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Bill Foster: Businessman, Scientist, Independent Solutions

Bill's Science Career

For more than 25 years before being elected to represent the people of Illinois in the U.S. Congress in 2008, Bill played a leading role in several groundbreaking experiments in elementary particle physics. He also managed several multimillion dollar accelerator construction and research projects, and led teams of engineers and physicists to help build the latest round of Fermilab's giant particle accelerators. Along the way he designed and built equipment using a number of advanced technologies, including high speed electronics, superconducting magnets, analog and digital integrated circuit design, and high power electronics. Bill received several awards for these technical developments.

Photo Montage of Science at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

Science at Fermilab

The bottom of the picture is a computer-generated display of the Top Quark using software that Bill Foster wrote in about 1990.

The IMB Proton Decay Detector

In 1979, Bill joined the IMB (Irvine-Michigan-Brookhaven) collaboration as one of the key members who designed, built and conducted research. The IMB detector was a 60-foot cube of ultra-pure water constructed in a salt mine underneath Lake Erie. The water was surrounded by 2000 light-sensitive phototubes, designed to detect proton decay. The experiment became famous for the observation of the neutrino burst emitted by a nearby Supernova (exploding star).

The IMB Proton Decay Detector, Bill's PH.D Thesis Experiment

A diver takes a swim in the IMB detector.

CDF - The Collider Detector at the Fermilab Tevatron

In 1984, Bill moved to Illinois to work at Fermilab and join one of the largest and most exciting experiments in the world. The Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) is the first and largest detector at the Fermilab Tevatron, the world's highest energy particle accelerator. The goal of the experiment was to discover the identity and properties of the particles that make up the universe and to understand the forces and interactions between those particles. Bill designed and built significant parts of the original equipment, and Bill and his equipment participated in the discovery of the Top Quark, the heaviest known form of matter.

The Collider Detector at Fermilab

The Collider Detector at Fermilab, being rolled out of the collision hall after the discovery of the Top Quark.

Bill was responsible for a good part of the electronics and cables in this picture

Bill's Integrated Circuit Designs

In the early 1990's Bill led the team that designed a new type of integrated circuit (computer chip) that allowed particle physics collisions to be measured with unprecedented speed and accuracy. Bill's design is still being used at high energy physics experiments being built today.

The QIE, one of Bill's high Speed Integrated Circuit (computer chip) designs

Photograph of one of Bill's integrated circuits.

The silicon "chip" is about 2mm (3/32nd of an inch) in size and contains many thousands of transistors. A typical particle physics experiment will use thousands of these specialized chips.

Bill and Fermilab's Particle Accelerators

In 1994 Bill began working on Fermilab's giant particle accelerators. During this time he managed several multi-million dollar accelerator construction and research projects. Bill was the co-inventor of Fermilab's Recycler Ring, the newest of Fermilab's giant machines. Each time Femilab's machines operate, the particle beams go through over 500 magnets that Bill designed and led the teams that built them.

Aerial view of Fermilab showing the Recycler Ring

Inside the 2-mile long tunnel containing the Recyler and Main Injector

Bill's Antiproton Recycler Ring is located in one of Fermilab's long circular tunnels. The Fermilab High-rise is at left.

The inside of the 2-mile long tunnel. Bill's Recycler magnets are the green objects at top.

Read More:

What is Fermilab? http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/whatis/index.html

What is Particle Physics? http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/matter/index.html

Physics at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/index.html

The CDF experiment: http://www-cdf.fnal.gov/about/index.html

The Particle Adventure: an interactive tour of quarks, neutrinos, antimatter, extra dimensions, dark matter, accelerators and particle detectors: http://particleadventure.org/index.html

NEXT:  Bill's congressional career