Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New accelerator technique doubles particle energy in just one meter

16.02.2007
Imagine a car that accelerates from zero to 60 in 250 feet, and then rockets to 120 miles per hour in just one more inch.

That's essentially what a collaboration of more than a dozen accelerator physicists has accomplished, using electrons for their racecars and plasma for the afterburners. Because electrons already travel at near light's speed in an accelerator, the physicists actually doubled the energy of the electrons, not their speed.

The researchers-from the Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering-published their work in the Feb. 15 issue of Nature.

The achievement demonstrates a technology that may drive the future of accelerator design. To reach the high energies required to answer the new set of mysteries confronting particle physics-such as dark energy and the origin of mass-the newest accelerators are vastly larger, and consequently more expensive, than their predecessors. Very high-energy particle beams will be needed to detect the very short-lived particles that have eluded scientists so far.

"We hope that someday these breakthroughs will make future generations of accelerators feasible and affordable," said SLAC Deputy Director Persis Drell, who is not an author of the Nature study. "It's wonderful to see the tremendous progress in understanding the underlying physics for fundamentally new methods of accelerating particles."

While still in early stages of development, the research shows that acceleration using plasma, or ionized gas, can dramatically boost the energy of particles in a short distance.

"The scale is pretty remarkable," said SLAC physicist and study co-author Mark Hogan. "You need an airplane to take a picture of the 2-mile linear accelerator here. Yet in a space shorter than the span of your arms, we doubled the electrons' energy to the highest ever made here. I hope in the long term it leads to extending the capabilities of existing and upcoming machines at modest costs."

The electrons first traveled 2 miles through the linear accelerator at SLAC, gaining 42 billion electron volts (GeV) of energy. Then they passed through a 33-inch long (84-centimeter) plasma chamber and picked up another 42 GeV of energy. Like an afterburner on a jet engine, the plasma provides extra thrust. The plasma chamber is filled with lithium gas. As the electron bunch passes through the lithium, the front of the bunch creates plasma. This plasma leaves a wake that flows to the back of the bunch and shoves it forward, giving electrons in the back more energy.

The experiment created one of the biggest acceleration gradients ever achieved. The gradient is a measure of how quickly particles amass energy. In this case, the electrons hurtling through the plasma chamber gained almost 1,000 times more energy per foot (or about 3,000 times more energy per meter) than usual in the accelerator.

The recent advance is the culmination of almost a decade of work, led by SLAC Professor Robert Siemann, UCLA electrical engineering Professor Chan Joshi and USC engineering Professor Thomas Katsouleas.

"Physicists use particle accelerators to answer some of the most profound questions about the nature of the universe," said Joshi. "I am hopeful that plasma acceleration will enable us to continue the rich tradition of discovery."

Said study co-author and USC engineering Professor Patric Muggli: "We are all heartened that we are continuing to climb the plasma acceleration learning curve."

A current experimental limitation is that most of the electrons in a bunch lose their energy to the plasma.

"We take energy out of one part of the beam and put it into another part," Hogan said.

During the last two years, the team has improved the plasma acceleration gradient by a factor of 200. One of the next steps is to attempt a two-bunch system, where the first bunch provides all the energy to the trailing bunch. In a full-scale plasma accelerator, physicists would use those second bunches to create high-energy particle collisions in their detectors.

Neil Calder | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>