Engineering

Particle accelerator: Instead of miles just centimeters short

Researchers from Germany years put together with colleagues from other countries the heads, to teach the shrinking particle accelerators. On chip size. And although the existing plants are fission. 

Zero international team does not begin in any case: base is a development of the Max Planck Institute for plasma physics in Garching. There the Americans John Breuer and German physicist Peter Hommelhoff have already built an accelerator, which fuels the hope, that material researchers, biologists and other scientists can produce highly accurate electron and x-ray laboratory in a few years. Now they have to wait on an experimental space often grueling long.

Rare experimentation

For example on the electron Accelerator Petra III, which operates the German electron synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg. With Petra III the Hamburger for example also questions answered, how do the white layer on the surface of aging chocolate is created.

Particle accelerator Instead of miles just centimeters short
Three miniature Accelerator modules from Silicon on a transparent basis.

Accelerator Petra got a place of experimentation, pleased as he cracked the Lotto jackpot. Because the times, to which guests there can work, are extremely scarce. Similar to closely is the other large storage rings.

Extremely sharp x-rays

Department of laser physics at the University of Nuremberg Erlangen, and his US colleague Breuer hope to be able to imagine an accelerator the size of a shoe box in a few years. Then there would be no shortages and long waiting times more. The present facilities are huge – and incredibly expensive. DESY in Hamburg is, for example, 2304 m long. The CERN in Switzerland, the largest particle accelerator in the world, comes even at 27 km.

Particle accelerator Instead of miles just centimeters short-
Examples of nano-structures, which are examined for the miniature accelerator.

Hommelhoff wants to banish the accelerator, however, on a chip. He now leads an international team of researchers together with his colleague Professor Robert Byer of Stanford University in California. Precursor of the mini Accelerator are already presented by researchers at the U.S. Accelerator Center SLAC, which also belong to the team.

The basic idea: You want to accelerate the electrons with laser beams. The accelerator, Breuer and Hommelhoff in Garching have built, has convinced the American Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, launched by Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore and his wife in the year 2000 in the life. The Foundation supports the development equivalent of €12.6 million over five years.

Laser radiation accelerate the electrons

While the accelerator researchers according to meters involves a reduction once again two orders of magnitude. “The ‘shrink’ accelerators is similar to relevant such as the evolution of computers that filled once entire rooms and today can be worn around the wrist”, says Hommelhoff. The project is based on developments of in Nano Photonics, so the manufacture and use of nano-structures for the generation and manipulation of light.

While large accelerators used electromagnetic waves, to almost to the particles to accelerate the speed of light, their little brothers bring electrons with laser beams on tours, operating in the visible or infrared light spectrum. The wavelength of this laser light is shorter than that of electromagnetic waves tens to a hundred thousand times.

According to fast electrons are accelerated, in other words: you can reach the desired tempo accordingly faster. “The advantage: everything is up to fifty times smaller”, DESY scientists Franz Kärtner, who is also Professor at the University of Hamburg, and at the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) in the United States is and belongs to the developer team says.

Silicon instead of glass

While the Garchinger team was still on the glass for the construction of miniature Accelerator cells, the researchers now rely on Silicon. DESY is working among other things on an electron source, that the elementary particles in the BeschleuWhile large accelerators used electromagnetic waves, to almost to the particles to accelerate the speed of light, their little brothers take electrons with laser beams on tours, operating in the visible or infrared light spectrum. The wavelength light is shorter of this laser than that of electromagnetic waves to least a hundred thousand times.

According to fast electrons are accelerated, in other words: you can reach the desired tempo accordingly faster. “The advantage: everything is up to fifty times smaller”, DESY scientists Franz Kärtner, who is also Professor at the University of Hamburg, and at the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) in the United States is and belongs to the developer team says.

Silicon instead of glass

While the Garchinger team was still on the glass for the construction of miniature Accelerator cells, the researchers now rely on Silicon. DESY is working among other things on an electron source, which should feed the elementary particles in the accelerator module, a powerful laser to accelerate, as well as an electron slalom course for the production of X-rays. Also the development lab is Sinbad (“short innovative bunches and accelerators at DESY”) established, in which the accelerator cells are tested..

In practice, several of these mini Accelerator appear in a row. Everyone pushes the electrons still once on, until they reach the speed required for the specific measurement. The electrons can be used directly. If they are forced on a cam track however, creates X-rays, which is also suitable for measuring and analysis purposes.

When the accelerator is questionable, because now the scientists must solve new challenges: so they have to downsize the electron beam in its diameter to a 1000-faches. Not only it’s hard, but also to keep the electrons on line. “The electrons must be kept on a straight line. You can but easily distracted in their direction”, explains Prof. Hommelhoff. “You can imagine electrons like marbles, which you want to move along a straight line. This is much easier with a long ruler than if you try with a highlighter – especially, as always other repel the electrons.” Wondering how the electrons in the chip produced, as with what technique they are controlled and focused are still open. The chip design must still be optimized.

With their table-large keel box Accelerator Bella, California scientists have sent Ultrashort laser pulses through a straw-thin, approximately nine centimeters long tube with plasma. The electrons cracked with were accelerated while on 4.25 Gigaelektronenvolt.
With their table-large keel box Accelerator Bella, California scientists have sent Ultrashort laser pulses through a straw-thin, approximately nine centimeters long tube with plasma. The electrons cracked with were accelerated while on 4.25 Giga/elektron/volt.