Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists shrink particle accelerator

06.10.2015

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio frequency structures. A single accelerator module is just 1.5 centimetres long and one millimetre thick.


Terahertz accelerator modules easily fit into two fingers.

Credit: DESY/Heiner Mueller-Elsner

The terahertz technology holds the promise of miniaturising the entire set-up by at least a factor of 100, as the scientists surrounding DESY's Franz Kärtner from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) point out.

They are presenting their prototype, that was set up in Kärtner's lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the U.S., in the journal Nature Communications. The authors see numerous applications for terahertz accelerators, in materials science, medicine and particle physics, as well as in building X-ray lasers. CFEL is a cooperation between DESY, the University of Hamburg and the Max Planck Society.

In the electromagnetic spectrum, terahertz radiation lies between infrared radiation and microwaves. Particle accelerators usually rely on electromagnetic radiation from the radio frequency range; DESY's particle accelerator PETRA III, for example, uses a frequency of around 500 megahertz. The wavelength of the terahertz radiation used in this experiment is around one thousand times shorter.

"The advantage is that everything else can be a thousand times smaller too," explains Kärtner, who is also a professor at the University of Hamburg and at MIT, as well as being a member of the Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI), one of Germany's Clusters of Excellence.

For their prototype the scientists used a special microstructured accelerator module, specifically tailored to be used with terahertz radiation. The physicists fired fast electrons into the miniature accelerator module using a type of electron gun provided by the group of CFEL Professor Dwayne Miller, Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter and also a member of CUI.

The electrons were then further accelerated by the terahertz radiation fed into the module. This first prototype of a terahertz accelerator was able to increase the energy of the particles by seven kiloelectronvolts (keV).

"This is not a particularly large acceleration, but the experiment demonstrates that the principle does work in practice," explains co-author Arya Fallahi of CFEL, who did the theoretical calculations. "The theory indicates that we should be able to achieve an accelerating gradient of up to one gigavolt per metre."

This is more than ten times what can be achieved with the best conventional accelerator modules available today. Plasma accelerator technology, which is also at an experimental stage right now, promises to produce even higher accelerations, however it also requires significantly more powerful lasers than those needed for terahertz accelerators.

The physicists underline that terahertz technology is of great interest both with regard to future linear accelerators for use in particle physics, and as a means of building compact X-ray lasers and electron sources for use in materials research, as well as medical applications using X-rays and electron radiation.

"The rapid advances we are seeing in terahertz generation with optical methods will enable the future development of terahertz accelerators for these applications," says first author Emilio Nanni of MIT. Over the coming years, the CFEL team in Hamburg plans to build a compact, experimental free-electron X-ray laser (XFEL) on a laboratory scale using terahertz technology. This project is supported by a Synergy Grant of the European Research Council.

So-called free-electron lasers (FELs) generate flashes of laser light by sending high-speed electrons from a particle accelerator down an undulating path, whereby these emit light every time they are deflected. This is the same principle that will be used by the X-ray laser European XFEL, which is currently being built by an international consortium, reaching from the DESY Campus in Hamburg to the neighbouring town of Schenefeld, in Schleswig-Holstein. The entire facility will be more than three kilometres long.

The experimental XFEL using terahertz technology is expected to be less than a metre long. "We expect this sort of device to produce much shorter X-ray pulses lasting less than a femtosecond", says Kärtner. Because the pulses are so short, they reach a comparable peak brightness to those produced by larger facilities, even if there is significant less light in each pulse. "With these very short pulses we are hoping to gain new insights into extremely rapid chemical processes, such as those involved in photosynthesis."

Developing a detailed understanding of photosynthesis would open up the possibility of implementing this efficient process artificially and thus tapping into increasingly efficient solar energy conversion and new pathways for CO2 reduction. Beyond this, researchers are interested in numerous other chemical reactions. As Kärtner points out, "photosynthesis is just one example of many possible catalytic processes we would like to investigate." The compact XFEL can be potentially also used to seed pulses in large scale facilities to enhance the quality of their pulses. Also, certain medical imaging techniques could benefit from the enhanced characteristics of the novel X-ray source.

###

Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY is the leading German accelerator centre and one of the leading in the world. DESY is a member of the Helmholtz Association and receives its funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (90 per cent) and the German federal states of Hamburg and Brandenburg (10 per cent). At its locations in Hamburg and Zeuthen near Berlin, DESY develops, builds and operates large particle accelerators, and uses them to investigate the structure of matter. DESY's combination of photon science and particle physics is unique in Europe.

Reference

„Terahertz-driven linear electron acceleration"; Emilio A. Nanni, Wenqian R. Huang, Kyung-Han Hong, Koustuban Ravi, Arya Fallahi, Gustavo Moriena, R. J. Dwayne Miller & Franz X. Kärtner; Nature Communications, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS9486

Media Contact

Dr. Thomas Zoufal
presse@desy.de
49-408-998-1666

 @desynews

http://www.desy.de 

Dr. Thomas Zoufal | EurekAlert!

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht A Dream for the Future: “Flying with Green Fuel"
25.07.2018 | Universität Bremen

nachricht Investigating cell membranes: researchers develop a substance mimicking a vital membrane component
25.05.2018 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>