KIRK T. MCDONALD

Experimental High-Energy Physics
Department of Physics
Princeton University
P.O. Box 708, Princeton, NJ 08544
kirkmcd@princeton.edu
609-258-6608, FAX: -6360
Cellphone: 609-933-6601

Prof. McDonald has been involved in research into several topics in experimental high energy physics:
Strong-Field QED,
CP violation in B-meson decays,
Development of detectors for hadron identification.
Muon Collider, Neutrino Factory, and Neutrino Superbeams.
Undulator Based Production of Polarized Positrons.
The Daya Bay Reactor Antineutrino Experiment.

See also, K. Mcdonald's Physics Examples and Accelerator Physics Notes.

K. McDonald's Bibliography: .pdf version, some of K. McDonald's papers.


A study of strong-field QED, experiment E-144, is underway at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in which the picosecond pulse from a teraWatt laser collides with 50-GeV electrons. In the electron's frame the laser field approaches the QED critical field strength, m^2/e ~ 10^16 V/cm. In this strong background field the effective mass of the electron is increased, and vacuum-polarization effects (pair creation) are enhanced. The experiment began taking data in 1994 and in 1996 produced positrons in the interaction of laser light with a high-energy photon.

Popular articles about the experiment:

Presto! Light Creates Matter, Science Now Online, Aug. 20, 1997.

Conjuring Matter from Light, Science magazine, 29 Aug. 1997, p. 1202.

Scientists Use Light to Create Matter, N.Y. Times, Sept. 16, 1997.

Real Photons Create Matter, AIP Physics News, Sept. 18, 1997.

Dalla luce e' nata la materia, Corriere della Sera, Sept. 21, 1997 (JPEG, 164kB).

Materie aus Licht, Neue Zuricher Zeitung, Sept. 26, 1997 (JPEG, 128kB);
Materie aus Licht erschaffen, Oct. 1, 1997 (JPEG, 342kB).

Light Work, New Scientist magazine, Sept. 27, 1997.

Amerikanische Physiker schufen erstmals Materie aus reinem Licht, Die Zeit, Oct. 17, 1997 (JPEG, 450kB).

Matter Created from Pure Light, OE Reports, No. 167, Nov. 1997.

Boom! from Light comes Matter, Photonics Spectra online, Nov. 1997, also, p. 31 of Photonics Spectra, Nov. 1997, with a cartoon by Gil Eisner.

Matter from Light, CERN Courier, Nov. 1997, p. 4 (JPEG,230kB).

E = mc2, Really, Scientific American, Dec. 1997.

Let There Be Matter, Discover magazine, Dec. 1997, p. 40.

Researchers Create Matter from Light, Laser Focus World, Dec. 1997, p. 29.

Out of Pure Light, Physicists Create Particles of Matter, SLAC Interaction Point magazine, Dec. 1997 (JPEG, 430kB).

Let There Be Matter, a 2:04 min. interview by Karen Fox for the AIP Science Report (1.3MB .wav file).

Gamma Rays Create Matter Just by Plowing into Laser Light, Physics Today, Feb. 1998, p. 17.

Technical references:

Fundamental Physics During Violent Accelerations, (220kB, Jan. 7, 1985), published in Laser Acceleration of Particles, C. Joshi and T. Katsouleas, eds., AIP Conf. Proc. No. 130, 23 (1985).

Proposal for Experimental Studies of Nonlinear Quantum Electrodynamics, (700 kB, Sept. 2, 1986). This is an expanded version of the previous article.

Proposal for a Study of QED at Critical Field Strength, (1.9 MB, Oct. 20, 1991). The proposal for SLAC E-144.

Observation of Nonlinear Effects in Compton Scattering, (180 kB), Phys. Rev. Lett., Vol. 76, p. 3116 (1996).

Positron Production by Laser Light, (2.3MB), transparencies from a lecture given at the 1997 SLAC Summer Institute.
Positron Production by Laser Light, (0.7MB), text of a lecture given at the 1997 SLAC Summer Institute.

Positron Production in Multiphoton Light-by-Light Scattering, (200 kB), Phys. Rev. Lett., Vol. 79, p. 1626 (1997).

Transparencies (1.0MB), and written version (690kB) of a talk, `Higher Order QED Effects', presented at the 1998 Physics In Collision conference, relating E-144 to other aspects of quantum electrodynamics.

Studies of nonlinear QED in collisions of 46.6 GeV electrons with intense laser pulses, (1.3MB, 44 pages), Phys. Rev. D 60, 092004 (1999); Phys. Rev. article (2MB); SLAC-PUB-8063 (2.9MB, 89 pages).

Strong field QED, transparencies, (0.8MB, Sep. 25, 1999), for the proceedings, (0.8MB, Dec. 28, 1999), contributed to the Adrianfest; contains lore about the Melissinos clan, as well as a preview of a neutrino factory.

A classical application of strong-field QED is laser acceleration of particles.

(Right: Future BABARian Owen Schaefer in the magnet flux return, Aug. 14, 1997)


The phenomenon of CP violation is accommodated but not required in the Standard Model of high energy physics. In the next generation of experiments it is widely anticipated that CP violation will manifest itself rather directly in decays of B-mesons. While in the long run studies at hadron colliders will likely provide higher statistics, it is probable that CP violation in B-decays will be first observed in experiments at e+e- colliders. To the latter end, Prof. McDonald was a member of the BABAR collaboration whose experiment should began taking data at SLAC in 1999. McDonald's immediate responsibility in BABAR was with the construction of the drift chamber, a device that reconstructs the trajectories of the decay products of the B-mesons.

The study of CP violation in B-decays places higher demands on the technology of hadron identification than do other high-energy-physics experiments. Accordingly Prof. McDonald has been involved for some time in R&D of novel devices for hadron identification, especially those based on detection of UV light with thin-film CsI photocathodes.


I am working with a small band of enthusiasts towards a potentially lower-cost approach to high-energy physics: the use of colliding beams of muons . See also, physics opportunities at a muon collider. A precursor to a muon collider, with an exciting physics program of its own, is a neutrino factory. See also, physics opportunities at a neutrino factory. Much of my activity in this area concerns novel options for High Power Targets.

During 2005-07 I participated in an experiment at SLAC (E166) to demonstrate undulator-based production of polarized positrons for a future linear collider.

In 2006 I joined the Daya Bay Reactor Antineutrino Experiment, that will take place near Hong Kong, to search for the neutrino mixing parameter sin2θ13 down to a value of 0.01.
Observation of Mixing Angle θ13 (June 1, 2012).

Download Aladdin Ghostscript to view .ps files.
Visit the Tucows website for an extensive collection of browser utilities.
KTM's Physics Examples and other pedagogic diversions.

Physics-related Photos:
Photos from Andersonfest, Dec 14-15, 2013, Princeton. PWA90 Workshop.
Photos from 4rth High Power Target Workshop, May 2-6, 2011, Malmo, Sweden (+ visit to Copenhagen May 6).
BruceFest, Jan. 28, 2011, U. Chicago. KTM in photos 19 and 88.
Photos from Punting in Oxford, May 3, 2008, with Harold Kirk and Van Graves.
Photos from 2007 EP Lab Holiday Party, Dec 20, 2007.
Photos from 2006 EP Lab Holiday Party, Dec 21, 2006.
Photos from 2006 Physics Holiday Party, Dec 12, 2006.
Photos from 2006 Physics Department Reception, Oct 15, 2006, Mountain Lakes, Princeton.
Photos from 2005 EP Lab Holiday Party, Dec 22, 2005.
Photos from 2005 Physics Holiday Party, Dec 16, 2005.
Photos from E-166 party hosted by Karsten Hast, June 4, 2005.
Photos from Physics Dept. Picnic, May 17, 2005.
Photos from Black-Tie Dinner For David Gross and Frank Wilczek, April 30, 2005.
Photos from KTM's visit to Greece and Berlin, May 18-26, 2004.
Photos from E-166 Collaboration Meeting, Zeuthen, Germany, May 23-26, 2004.
Photos from 2003 EP Lab Holiday Party, Dec 22, 2003.
Photos from BNL E-951 Holdiay Party, Dec 19, 2003.
Photos from 2003 Physics Holiday Party, Dec 18, 2003.
Photos from Rubby Sherr 90th Birthday Celebration, Princeton, Sep 13, 2003. Additional photos by Helen Ju (editor), by Jerry Nolen, and by Bob Pollock.
Photos from High-Power Targetry Workshop, Ronkonkoma, NY, Sep 10-11, 2003.
Photos from WIPP, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Carlsbad, NM, Sep 4, 2003.
Photos from Physics Dept. Picnic, May 13, 2003.
Photos from Dick Rabberman Retirement Party, Jan. 31, 2003.
Photos from 2002 EP Lab Holiday Party.
Photos from 2002 Physics Holdiay Party.
Photos from Curt Callan Symposium, Nov. 17, 2002.
Photos from NuFact'02, London, July 2002. No captions yet. Photos 10n-nnnn_IMG by KTM, photos P70nnnnnm by Osama Yasuda, which are also on his web page with previews. Reception at the Victoria and Albert Musuem, July 1: photos to 101_0105-174, and P7020001-37. Banquet at the Science Musuem, July 5: photos 102-0250 to 103-0385, and P7050020-151.
Photos from Samiosfest, BNL, 16 May 2002.
Photos from Muon Collaboration Meeting, Shelter Island, NY, 9-15 May 2002.
Photos from Heuschfest, Santa Cruz, CA, 6 May 2002.
Photos from NNN02, CERN, 16-18 Jan 2002.
Photos from 2001 EP Lab Holiday Party.
Photos from 2001 Physics Holdiay Party.
Photos from Pierre Piroué Symposium, Dec. 1, 2001.
Photos from Picnic at the Barber-Meyers, Aug. 6, 2001.
Photos from Snowmass'01, July, 2001.
Photos from NuFACT'01, Tsukuba, Japan, May 23-30, 2001.
Photos from 2000 Physics Holiday party.
Photos from California Visit, Oct. 2000. (Photos 7-12 are of rf gear at LBNL.)
Photos from WIPP, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Carlsbad, NM, June 2000. (Photos 21-28 are of a red-tailed hawk that landed on a balcony of the Jadwin Physics building.)
Photos from Catalina Island & Monterey. Photos 1-10 are from the May '00 Neutrino Factory and Muon Collider Collaboration meeting, Catalina Island, May 17-19, 2000. Photos 23-109 are from NuFACT'00, Monterey, CA, May 22-26, 2000.
Photos from Visit to Los Alamos, Jan. 2000, featuring Bill Louis and Gary Hogan, + views of the LSND and Mega detectors.
Photos from 1999 Physics Holiday parties.
Photos from Adlerfest, Oct. 1999.
Photos from Muon Collider Meetings.
Photos from the Princeton Physics Department Reception, Oct. 1999.
Photos from the Adrianfest, Sept. 1999.
Photos from the NuFACT'99, Lyon France, July 5-9, 1999.
Photos from the May 1999. Photos 1-4 and 7-8 are of Hulya Guler + Mother; photos 5-6 are of Ken Ford and John Wheeler.
Photos from the 1998 Princeton Physics Department Picnic.
Photos from the XVIII Physics in Collisions, Frascati, Italy, June 17-19, 1998.
Photos from the EP Lab Holiday party, Dec. 22, 1998.
KTM, at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Aug 6, 1971.
Photos and documents related to KTM's and Bob Kline's thesis experiment, ~ 1970.
PhD theses from the Heusch group at Caltech:
Robert V Kline (1974).
KTM (1972).
William A McNeely, Jr (1971).
Shui-Uh (Steve) Cheng (1970).
Elliott D Bloom (1967).
Charles Y Prescott (1966).

Family-related photos:
Photos from Nancy and Kirk's trip to Shanghai, May 12-19, 2013, + Kirk in Hong Kong/Daya Bay.
Nancy and Kirk at the Shirin Cafe, Jan 20, 2013.
Photos from Wedding of Owen and PohLin, July 29, 2012.
Photos from Dinner at Benito One May 31, 2012, NYC (Genci, Luis, Carlos, Abraham, KTM, Justina).
Photos from The Money Waster's Parade, May 27, 2012, New Orleans (KTM, Nancy, Alex). Photos from New Orleans, by Sylvia Kirk during IPAC12, New Orleans, May 20-26,2012. (None with KTM, but a couple with Harold Kirk).
Photos from Tucson visit, Mar 7-10, 2012. Adanne, Molino Basin, JEM library, Saguaro Nat'l Monument.
Photos from Alex and Xiong in Santa Cruz, CA, Mar 3, 2012.
Photos from Alex McDonald's climb of Mt Wilson and El Diente, June 27, 2011.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy's trip to Poland, July 18-25, 2010. Dinner with Marcin Wojcik and Paul Grant.
Photo album for Betsy McDonald's 90th Birthday Commemoration, prepared by Jan McDonald, Sept 30, 2010.
Photos from Kirk, Nancy, Alex and Owen's visits to the MOMA, and to the Highline park (+ Gehry building), May 31, 2010.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy's trip to Kyoto, May 23-30, 2010.
Photos from Kirk, Owen and Poh Lin, trip to Grand Canyon/Las Vegas, Jan 3-6, 2010.
Photos from McDonald Family Reunion, Tucson, Dec 28, 2009-Jan 2, 2010.
Photos from Reilly's visit to Benito One Little Italy, NYC, Nov 28, 2009.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy's visit to Oxford (where we stayed at Keeble College), and to the Elgin marbles, Nov, 2009.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy's visit to the Hong Kong area, June 2009: Mong Kok bird market, Kowloon; Macau; Cheung Chau harbor.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy's visits, May, 2009, to Tom Dyer and Lise Kenworthy, Seattle; Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver; and a wharf at Victoria, BC.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy's Visit to Milan, July 5, 2008.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy's Visit to Valencia, June 29, 2008 (with Lee Roberts). Spain defeats Germany for the European Cup.
Photos and movies from Graduation of Owen Schaefer and Poh Lin Tan, June 1-13, 2008.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy's Visit to Beijing , Apr 6-12, 2008.
Photos from Carouge (9 Rue Joseph Girard) and Annecy, Aug 29 - Sept 1, 2007.
Photos from Kirk's Visit to Beijing , July 26 - Aug 4, 2007.
Owen, Poh Lin Tan, Thomas Tsang, Annecy, Geneva, Lyon, June, 2007.
Alex, Adam Friedan, X, and the peach coogan, Santa Cruz, CA May 28, 2007.
Jojo and Pica, Sergy, France, May 22, 2007.
Photos from Kirk's Visit to Beijing , Oct 29-Nov 3 2006.
Photos from Kirk's Visit to Beijing , August 2006.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy's Visit to London, Geneva, Glasgow, June 2006.
Photos from Kirk's Visit to England, April 2006.
Photos from Owen in Cape Town, Feb 2006.
McDonald Family w/bikes, Tucson, Jan 2006/ ~ 1960.
A few photos from London + 1 in Rome, June, 2005.
3 photos from Switzerland, June, 2005.
A few photos from Alex's graduation, May 31, 2005.
Photos from Kirk's Visit to London and Geneva, March 2005.
Photos from Kirk and Nancy in Central Park, walking thru Christos' golden gates. (Feb 21, 2005).
Photos from Alex and Kirk's Visit to Tucson, Jan 2005.
Photos from Kirk's Visit to London, Nov 7, 2004.
Photos from McDonald and Reilly Clans.
Photos from Kirk's Visit to Roni, Mendocino and San Francisco, Oct. 23-24, 2004.
Article in the Arizona Daily Star featuring Kalani McDonald, Sept 10, 2004.
Photos from The Reilly's Visit to Princeton, Sept 7-9, 2004.
Photos from Olivia Cotton/Betsy McDonald's visit to New Jersey/New York, Aug 7-15, 2004.
Photos from Kirk's visit to Kyoto, July 24-Aug 1, 2004.
Photos from Alex, Owen and Kirk's visit to Aspen/Snowmass , June 28-July 10, 2004.
Photos from Nancy's JJC Art Show, June 25, 2004.
Photos from Owen's High School Graduation, June 18, 2004.
Photos from Alex and Kirk's visit to Tucson, Mar 16-17, 2004.
4 Photos of Nancy and Roxanne at the Harry's Brook construction site, Feb 28, 2004.
Photos from Kirk McDonald's visit to Tucson, Feb 19, 2004.
Photos from Kirk McDonald/Nancy Schaefer's visit to Hawaii, Feb 4-9, 2004.
Photos from Kirk McDonald's visit with the Bula-Bartz's, Switzerland, Sept. 20-21, 2003.
Photos from Kirk McDonald's Japan Trip, June 2003.
Photos from Terra Christian's high school graduation, June 14, 2003, Ukiah, CA.
Photos from McDonald family reunion, Dec. 2002.
Photos from Gail McDonald's visit to Princeton, Dec.17-18, 2002.
Photos from McDonald/Schaefer Family in London, July 2002.
Photos from Aspen, CO, Jun 2002.
The McDonald Family Reunion, Tucson, Dec. '00.
Photos from California Visit, Oct. 2000. (Photos 1-6 feature Roni, Kirk, Terra and Ira near Ukiah; photos 7-12 are of rf gear at LBNL.)
Photos from Summer 2000. Photos 1-8 are of Owen's graduation from John Witherspoon Middle School; photos 9-39 are from the Aspen Physics Institute.
Photos from Princeton High School Orchestra Trip to Italy, Feb. 2000.
Photos from McDonough Clan Christmas Fest, Dec. 25, 1999. Murphy Clan genealogy.
Photos from My California visits, Nov.-Dec. 1999.
Photos of a morel at 39 Poe Road, May 12, 1999.
Visit with the Bula-Bartz Family, 9/98.
The McDonald/Schaefer Family in Paris, April '98.
The McDonald Family Reunion, Tucson, Dec. '98; includes McDonald family links.
McDonald and Hunt Clans, Prescott, AZ, 1983, hosted by Jack Hunt. Hunt Clan genealogy.
Alex and Kirk in Estes Park, Co, 1969, 1991, 1995.
Miscellaneous photos featuring Owen Schaefer, 1985-1998.
Anna and Bob Kline, Nancy, July 1985, on Anna and Bob's wedding day.
Jan McDonald webpage.
Our shore properties, 529 Bank St, Cape May, NJ.
Publications of James E McDonald.
JE McDonald: Duluthian, Dec 6, 2012.