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Texas Physicists Create Tabletop Particle Accelerator 89

An anonymous reader sends this quote from a University of Texas news release: "Physicists at The University of Texas at Austin have built a tabletop particle accelerator that can generate energies and speeds previously reached only by major facilities that are hundreds of meters long and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build (abstract). 'We have accelerated about half a billion electrons to 2 gigaelectronvolts over a distance of about 1 inch,' said Mike Downer, professor of physics in the College of Natural Sciences. 'Until now that degree of energy and focus has required a conventional accelerator that stretches more than the length of two football fields. It’s a downsizing of a factor of approximately 10,000.' ... Downer said that the electrons from the current 2 GeV accelerator can be converted into “hard” X-rays as bright as those from large-scale facilities. He believes that with further refinement they could even drive an X-ray free electron laser, the brightest X-ray source currently available to science. A tabletop X-ray laser would be transformative for chemists and biologists, who could use the bright X-rays to study the molecular basis of matter and life with atomic precision, and femtosecond time resolution, without traveling to a large national facility."
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Texas Physicists Create Tabletop Particle Accelerator

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  • by chinton ( 151403 ) <<chinton001-slashdot> <at> <>> on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:57PM (#44073781) Journal
    Egon Spengler would only say "Don't cross the streams".
  • sales pitch (Score:2, Insightful)

    by slew ( 2918 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:43PM (#44074237)

    “I don’t think a major breakthrough is required to get there,” he said. “If we can just keep the funding in place for the next few years, all of this is going to happen. Companies are now selling petawatt lasers commercially, and as we get better at doing this, companies will come into being to make 10 GeV accelerator modules. Then the end users, the chemists and biologists, will come in, and that will lead to more innovations and discoveries.”

    1. Start with 1GeV research laser plasma accelerator
    2. Demo 2GeV accelerator tied to one of the most powerful petawatt lasers in the world
    3. Promise 10GeV if funding continues for next few years...
    4. ???
    5. Profit!

  • Re:Wow... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 21, 2013 @10:00PM (#44076009)

    If you Google "2 BeV accelerator," the first relevant hit is a scanned typewritten document [] from CERN.

    Maybe because "BeV" is really antiquated and not too long after accelerators reached that energy level, GeV became standardized.

    As far as use, there are some hard limits on current accelerator technology that requires them to be scaled up to make large gains in energy. The hope is that work like this will continue to go to higher energy levels and eventually allow for surpassing the highest energy accelerators without having to dig a large hole. Although that will be potentially quite difficult, as it is not as simple as just make a longer version of the new tech to increase the energy, so to some degree, the total energy they get is a lot more relevant than the energy per distance.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith