Explainable Machine Learning for Breakdown Prediction in High Gradient RF Cavities

Christoph Obermair*, T Cartier-Michaud, A. Apollonio, L. Millar, L. Felsberger, L. Fischl, H.S. Bovbjerg, Daniel Wollmann, W. Wuensch, N. Catalan-Lasheras, M. Boronat, Franz Pernkopf, G. Burt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The occurrence of vacuum arcs or radio frequency (rf) breakdowns is one of the most prevalent factors limiting the high-gradient performance of normal conducting rf cavities in particle accelerators. In this paper, we search for the existence of previously unrecognized features related to the incidence of rf breakdowns by applying a machine learning strategy to high-gradient cavity data from CERN’s test stand for the Compact Linear Collider (CLIC). By interpreting the parameters of the learned models with explainable artificial intelligence (AI), we reverse-engineer physical properties for deriving fast, reliable, and simple rule–based models. Based on 6 months of historical data and dedicated experiments, our models show fractions of data with a high influence on the occurrence of breakdowns. Specifically, it is shown that the field emitted current following an initial breakdown is closely related to the probability of another breakdown occurring shortly thereafter. Results also indicate that the cavity pressure should be monitored with increased temporal resolution in future experiments, to further explore the vacuum activity associated with breakdowns
Original languageEnglish
Article number104601
JournalPhysical Review Accelerators and Beams
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

Fields of Expertise

  • Information, Communication & Computing
  • Intelligent Systems

    Pernkopf, F.

    1/01/02 → …

    Project: Research area

Cite this