Miniature Particle Accelerator Unveiled

Miniature Particle Accelerator Unveiled

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By Wisse Hettinga

Researchers have developed nanophotonic electron accelerators, marking a significant step towards miniaturizing particle accelerators

These new accelerators are the size of a computer chip, leveraging lasers to speed up electrons. Such advancements could lead to direct internal radiotherapy using endoscopes in the future.

From the report at Scitechdaily:

When people hear “particle accelerator,” most will probably think of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, the approximately 27-kilometer-long ring-shaped tunnel that researchers from around the globe used to conduct research into unknown elementary particles. Such huge particle accelerators are the exception, however. We are more likely to encounter them in other places in our day-to-day lives, for example in medical imaging procedures or during radiation to treat tumors. Even then, however, the devices are several meters in size and still rather bulky, with room for improvement in terms of performance.

Particle accelerators are crucial tools in a wide variety of areas in industry, research, and the medical sector. The space these machines require ranges from a few square meters to large research centers. Using lasers to accelerate electrons within a photonic nanostructure constitutes a microscopic alternative with the potential of generating significantly lower costs and making devices considerably less bulky.

Until now, no substantial energy gains have been demonstrated. In other words, it has not been shown that electrons really have increased in speed significantly. A team of laser physicists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has now succeeded in demonstrating the first nanophotonic electron accelerator – at the same time as colleagues from Stanford University.

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