The device uses lasers to accelerate electrons along an etched channel.
In a full-scale particle accelerator, electrons fly along a kilometers-long path as microwaves bombard them, boosting the particles to near light speed. Such a high-energy electron beam, produced at facilities such as California’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, enables a variety of experiments, including capturing extremely detailed images and probing the structures of molecules. But particle accelerators are expensive, require scientists to travel from locations all over the world and cannot accommodate all the researchers who submit requests to book time. To make these devices more accessible, a team at Stanford University developed a laser-driven particle accelerator that fits on a tiny silicon chip—and that could eventually be scaled up to produce a beam with as much energy as SLAC’s.
“The idea of using lasers in accelerators goes all the way back to the year the laser was invented, 1960,” says Robert Byer, a Stanford researcher who has been working on this concept since 1974. Lasers produce electromagnetic waves with much shorter wavelengths than the microwaves used in a full-scale accelerator, which means they can accelerate electrons moving through a much smaller space. “The size of these devices is uncannily small,” Byer says. The electrons in the new accelerator, for example, travel along a channel that is about three one-thousandths of a millimeter wide—around half the width of a human red blood cell.
Although laser-driven devices can accelerate electrons in a much smaller space than full-scale accelerators, they also require much greater precision to line up the laser and the electrons in the right way, so the light waves push the particles in the correct direction with as much energy as possible. “You not only have to demonstrate the ability to couple the laser light to the electrons in these very small structures, but you have to generate the electrons and have them also be transmitted by the channel,” Byer explains. In 2013 two research groups, one at Stanford and other U.S. institutions and another in Germany, independently managed to accelerate electrons with lasers. But these proof-of-concept prototypes required separate devices to generate the electrons, and they would be difficult to manufacture in bulk using existing techniques.
Image Credit: Neil Sapra
News This Week
he United States has recorded 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, while almost 20 million people are infected worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. Outside of the US, Brazil recorded more than 3 million cases, [...]
According to the first phase results, 90 per cent of the patients'lungs are still in a damaged state, which means their lungs ventilation and gas exchange functions have not recovered 90% of an example [...]
There are currently 25 vaccines to fight COVID-19 in clinical evaluation, another 139 vaccines in a pre-clinical stage, and many more being researched. But many of those vaccines, if they are at all successful, might [...]
A new class of nanosensor developed in Brazil could more accurately identify dengue and Zika infections, a task that is complicated by their genetic similarities and which can result in misdiagnosis. The technique uses [...]
Scientists investigating the evolution of the virus that causes Covid19 say that its mutation seems to be directed by human proteins that degrade it, but natural selection of the virus enables it to bounce [...]
Biomedical engineers at the Tufts University School of Engineering have developed tiny lipid-based nanoparticles that incorporate neurotranmitters to help carry drugs, large molecules, and even gene editing proteins across the blood-brain barrier and into [...]
UC San Diego recently announced that its health radiologists and other physicians are now leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to augment lung-imaging analysis in a clinical research study aimed at COVID-19 lung imaging analysis. The cause of [...]
The hubbub around mutations in the virus that causes COVID-19—and how they might make it more infectious—has been around since the early phase of the pandemic. A preprint study about a particular mutation involving [...]
Human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by scientists in Oxford are reported to have shown promising results. The researchers believe they have made a breakthrough after discovering the jab could provide “double protection” [...]
Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed a new face mask that they believe could stop viral particles as effectively as N95 masks. Unlike N95 masks, the new masks were designed [...]
Doctors may be missing signs of serious and potentially fatal brain disorders triggered by coronavirus, as they emerge in mildly affected or recovering patients, scientists have warned. Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of [...]
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have developed a safer and more efficient way to deliver a promising new method for treating cancer and liver disorders and for vaccination -- including a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna [...]
Despite its advantages over other vaccine technologies for Covid-19, adenovirus vector vaccines are likely to be tripped up by pre-existing antibodies to the vectors used and the need for a second injection to boost [...]
When the first coronavirus cases in Chicago appeared in January, they bore the same genetic signatures as a germ that emerged in China weeks before. But as Egon Ozer, an infectious-disease specialist at the Northwestern University [...]
Park Systems presents “NanoScientific Symposium on Nano Applications for a Changing World” sponsored by Physics World and Nanotechnology World Association. Park Systems launched this online event for researchers and scientists in nanoscience and nanotechnology [...]
Notwithstanding the wishful thinking of certain irresponsible and incompetent public figures, the only options to control and deal with the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are fast, cheap, reliable, [...]