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
The University of Queensland (UQ) is confident it can develop a vaccine for the potentially deadly coronavirus in as few as 16 weeks are two more people in Brisbane are monitored for the virus. [...]
University of Seville researchers, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, have managed to create the first image of nanoparticles of stabilised gold with biodegradable and biocompatible systems that have been obtained with 3D-printng [...]
Researchers have used liquid metals to develop new bacteria-destroying technology that could be the answer to the deadly problem of antibiotic resistance. The technology uses nano-sized particles of magnetic liquid metal to shred bacteria [...]
Lithium ion batteries often grow needle-like structures between electrodes that can short out the batteries and sometimes cause fires. Now, an international team of researchers has found a way to grow and observe these [...]
Researchers from ETH Zurich and the National University of Singapore have developed a new kind of bandage that helps blood to clot and doesn’t stick to the wound (Nature Communications, "Superhydrophobic hemostatic nanofiber [...]
Some quantum computers and networks store their information in an electron’s spin, which can be up or down – like the zeros or ones in a conventional computer. They can also be a combination [...]
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 [...]
Researchers found a way to create lasers smaller than red blood cells. These microlasers convert infrared light into light at higher frequencies. Made from nanoparticles, these are among the smallest, continuously emitting lasers of [...]
AS artificial intelligence technology continues to develop, like any new tech, questions begin to arise on its capabilities in warfare. Technology could ultimately be catastrophic for mankind. During an interview with Express.co.uk, he argued [...]
The University of Surrey has developed a robust multi-layer nano-barrier for ultra-lightweight and stable carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRPs) that could be used to build high precision instrument structures for future space missions. CFRP [...]
Scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand say they have discovered how viruses that specifically kill bacteria can outwit bacteria by hiding from their defenses. These findings are important for the development [...]
Most synthetic materials, including those in battery electrodes, polymer membranes, and catalysts, degrade over time because they don't have internal repair mechanisms. If you could distribute autonomous microrobots within these materials, then you could [...]
For the first time, researchers have been able to record, frame-by-frame, how an electron interacts with certain atomic vibrations in a solid. The technique captures a process that commonly causes electrical resistance in materials [...]