News / Science & Technology

New Research Could Lead to Particle Accelerator on a Chip

Particle accelerator on a nanostructured glass chip is smaller than a grain of rice. (Brad Plummer/Stanford University)Particle accelerator on a nanostructured glass chip is smaller than a grain of rice. (Brad Plummer/Stanford University)
x
Particle accelerator on a nanostructured glass chip is smaller than a grain of rice. (Brad Plummer/Stanford University)
Particle accelerator on a nanostructured glass chip is smaller than a grain of rice. (Brad Plummer/Stanford University)
Rick Pantaleo
Scientists from Stanford University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory say they’ve developed an innovation that could lead to particle accelerators the size of a computer chip, a development that could have far-reaching implications for science and medicine.
 
When many think about a particle accelerator device, they may think of units such as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. The LHC is enormous - a tunnel 27 kilometers in circumference sitting 175 meters underground. Writing in Nature, the researchers said they used a laser rather than microwaves to accelerate electrons in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice. The scientists said they were able speed up those electrons at a rate 10 times higher than its possible using current conventional technology.
 
"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.
 
The findings could lead to miniature, compact accelerators as well x-ray devices that could be used in a variety of applications such as security scanning, medical imaging for hospitals, materials science and biology research. The innovation could also lead to medical treatment such as particle therapy that uses accelerated protons, neutrons, or positive ions to treat cancer or improve medical care for people injured in combat.
 
Not only would the new micro-accelerators be a lot smaller is size, said the scientists, the technology could also be cost effective since commercial lasers could be used and low-cost, mass-production techniques could be employed in building the units.  The researchers think their findings could make way for new generations of "tabletop accelerators.”
 
However, the researchers have some fundamental issues they need to address first.
 
The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's linear particle accelerator consists of 3.22 kilometers of copper cavities. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's linear particle accelerator consists of 3.22 kilometers of copper cavities. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)
x
The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's linear particle accelerator consists of 3.22 kilometers of copper cavities. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)
The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's linear particle accelerator consists of 3.22 kilometers of copper cavities. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)
To conduct their “accelerator-on-a-chip” experiments, the scientists first had to speed up electrons to near the speed of light by using a conventional accelerator such as SLAC's 3.22 kilometer-long linear accelerator in California.  After getting up to light-speed, the electrons were then focused into a tiny channel within a glass chip that’s only about a half-micron-high and a half millimeter long in size.
 
In order to create a real tabletop accelerator, the scientists say they will first need to come up with a much more compact device to get those electrons up to light-speed before they enter a small accelerator.
 
Once they can solve that problem, the scientists said their new mini-accelerator would not only be able to accelerate particles as powerfully as SLAC's large linear accelerator in just about 30 meters, but would be able to deliver a million more electron pulses per second as well. That could result in a unit that is not only as powerful as the mammoth accelerators, but perhaps even more so.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kirk W. Fraser from: Clatskanie
October 08, 2013 1:18 AM
Since the piece of glass accelerates particles then it can be pumped by more of them in earlier stages.

by: Richard from: Orrville OH
October 07, 2013 8:25 PM
Nature can be used as an accelerator, attach a particle to light photons that move at light speed.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs