Not everything in Texas is bigger. Case in point: the tabletop particle accelerator created by physicists at the University of Texas at Austin, which has accelerated half a billion electrons to 2 gigaelectronvolts over a distance of just 1 inch.
A gigaelectronvolt (GeV) is the amount of energy gained or lost by an electron as it moves across an electric potential difference of 1 billion volts. Previously, the Texas achievement would have required a conventional accelerator that was longer than two football fields. The laser-plasma acceleration technique that underlies the accelerator involves firing a powerful laser pulse into a puff of gas.
According to a statement from the University, this development will help advance the availability of multi-GeV laser plasma accelerators at research laboratories. According to Mike Downer, professor of physics in the College of Natural Sciences, 10 GeV accelerators of a few inches in length could be developed in the next few years.
The 2 GeV accelerator could facilitate the creation of an X-ray free electron laser, which would allow researchers to utilize the technology without traveling to larger national laboratories.
The research was published this month in Nature Communications.
Source: University of Texas