Skip to main content

CU Cyclotron collection

Identifier: COU:2532

Scope and Contents

The CU Cyclotron collection is unprocessed and inventoried at box level. The collection is mainly comprised of cyclotron log books, spanning time from the lab construction in the late 1950s through the 1980s. These handwritten logs detail the day-to-day operation of the facility and the experimental program. The rest of the collection contains research records, proposals, reports, financial statements, and computer simulation printouts related to Cyclotron/nuclear physics.


  • Creation: 1962 - 1981

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is located offsite to request for to see this collection, follow this link:,1,1,B/holdings~9003844&FF=&1,0,

Copyright Statement

The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Biographical / Historical

The Cyclotron Building was a high-profile nuclear physics facility that started in 1956. The building was initially built with Colorado state funds in 1957, and then matched with an Atomic Energy Commission grant to build the cyclotron in 1958. The Cyclotron Building was completed in 1960, later to be called the Nuclear Physics Laboratory.

Its research group included George Gamow, David Lind, and Jack Kraushaar. The cyclotron marked the beginning of a period of remarkable transformation for the physics department. Lind and Kraushaar were the faculty leaders who created, designed, and ran the cyclotron. They were also the principal investigators of the contract from the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission for a design study of a cyclotron with azimuthally varying magnetic field. Within a year, that contract had been modified to cover the design and construction of a 52-inch cyclotron capable of accelerating protons to 30 MeV, as well as accelerating deuterons, helium three ions, and alpha particles, one of only three similar cyclotrons in the country. The design process was led by Lind and Kraushaar, as well as, Rod Smythe and Martin Rickey. A key feature of the machine was its ability to deliver particles to the target with a continuously variable range of energies.

The University of Colorado’s cyclotron was the first cyclotron device between St. Louis and the West Coast ever built and, in 1962, it produced a beam of hydrogen nuclei. The cyclotron's 85 ton magnet accelerated particles of hydrogen, carbon and other matter and hurled them against the nucleus of atoms to smash them. Physicists at the time were exploring the means and manner in which atoms could be smashed. Albert Bartlett, a professor at CU, headed up what would be known as the beta ray spectrometer project during this time.

With the cyclotron, the CU Nuclear Physics program conducted pioneering research for more than twenty-five years, providing research and educational opportunities for hundreds of undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows.


175.5 linear feet (116 Boxes)

Language of Materials



The CU Cyclotron was a compact particle accelerator used by the university from 1962-1981, for research in high-energy nuclear physics. The University of Colorado cyclotron was conceived as a variable-energy, isochronous machine which would cover the energy region immediately above the electrostatic accelerators. It was located off campus, because of local residents’ fears of radiation, on Marine and 19th Street. The cyclotron was constructed with funds both from the school and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). This might account for the many governmental research projects that the cyclotron was used for: the AEC, the Department of Energy (DOE), etc.


This collection is arranged in original order in which we attained it from the donor, with a box level inventory list.

In Progress
Unknown Box Level Inventory Transcribed in ArchivesSpace by Katelyn Morken, July 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States