The Cyclotron Laboratory sous-fonds documents the research and construction of the cyclotron as well as additional changes over the project’s lifetime. The sous-fonds contains four series: Cyclotron Technical Drawings, Research Materials, a cyclotron drawing index and Photographs.
The cyclotron was conceptualized in 1957 when the head of the Physics Department, B.G. Whitmore, proposed the construction of a cyclotron at the University of Manitoba based on the prototype at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). With a $70,000 initial grant release, the construction began underneath the parking lot adjacent to the Allen Physics building on the Fort Garry Campus in 1959. Although the original proposal of the design was based on the UCLA cyclotron, almost all the design detail was completed by the staff at the University of Manitoba. The cyclotron vault, the shielding and the two experimental areas together occupied 5,000 square feet, while the control room and the electrical room took up another 2,000 square feet of floor area. The cyclotron was officially opened in 1965. It was the second cyclotron in Canada and the first in Western Canada.
The U of M cyclotron was considered a pioneer model of cyclotron design during that period, it being a spiral-ridge or sector-focused cyclotron. The sector-focused cyclotron is one of the most useful tools of nuclear physicists. Being the only negative hydrogen ion cyclotron operating between 20 MeV and 50 MeV in North America, it could generate beams of high quality and intensity in order to tackle some of the physics problems in atomic and subatomic physics that require such facilities. Axial injection was introduced to separate the ion source from the cyclotron itself, the source being housed in a building at ground level while the cyclotron was situated two floors below. This made it possible to improve the performance of the ion source and to develop a source of polarized ions without having to deal with the high radiation environment at the centre of the cyclotron.
Over the next two decades after the cyclotron opened, it attracted various physicists, engineers and students to the university to help assist with the project and made it a major turning point within the department.
In 1986, under the directorship of Dr. Jasper McKee, the cyclotron’s uses expanded to other areas of research other than nuclear physics. The Cyclotron Laboratory changed its name to Accelerator Centre to serve as the University Research Centre where interdisciplinary and applied research could be carried out in conjunction with external laboratories and/or the private sector. The Accelerator Centre ceased operation in 1989.