'Particle Accelerator On A Chip' Demonstrated
A Stanford University team has demonstrated a radically faster and smaller technique for accelerating electrons, that they say could dramatically reduce the size of particle accelerators and even lead to new generations of “tabletop” accelerators.
The team used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice.
“We still have a number of challenges before this technology becomes practical for real-world use, but eventually it would substantially reduce the size and cost of future high-energy particle colliders for exploring the world of fundamental particles and forces,” said Joel England, the SLAC physicist who led the experiments. “It could also help enable compact accelerators and X-ray devices for security scanning, medical therapy and imaging, and research in biology and materials science.”
Because it employs commercial lasers and low-cost, mass-production techniques, the researchers believe it will set the stage for new generations of “tabletop” accelerators.
At its full potential, the new “accelerator on a chip” could match the accelerating power of SLAC’s 2-mile-long linear accelerator in just 100 feet, and deliver a million more electron pulses per second.