Microchip-Sized Particle Accelerator

Microchip-Sized Particle Accelerator
A compact particle accelerator from the team at Stanford University is small enough to fit on a microchip.

Typically, particle accelerators are quite large, such as the 17-mile circumference Hadron Collider. In contrast, the prototype design from the Stanford team is made up of a silicon nanoscale channel about the width of a human hair. The device is sealed in a vacuum, where electrons were spurred along by pulses of infrared light. Although the electrons do not move as quickly as those in the traditional devices, the team hopes the miniature accelerator could have applications in chemistry, materials and biological research.

As team lead Jelena Vuckovic put it, "The largest accelerators are like powerful telescopes. There are only a few in the world and scientists must come to places like SLAC to use them. We want to miniaturize accelerator technology in a way that makes it a more accessible research tool."

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