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New Particle Accelerator Design Developed

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 05:36AM

The Large Hardon Collider at CERN is a massive achievement for humanity, in more than one way, but in the future it could be replaced with accelerators that could almost fit on a table. The research to build such accelerators is going on right now, and an important step has been made recently at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. There, researchers have successfully found a way to use plasma to accelerate positrons.

Positrons are the antimatter counterpart of electrons, and in the future we want to have electron-positron linear accelerators. Both particles are elementary, meaning they are not made up of smaller particles like the protons being collided in the LHC. This will simplify the collisions and thus make studying them easier. One way to efficiently accelerator electrons is with plasma wakefield acceleration, which uses one bundle of electrons to distort plasma, creating a wake for a second batch of electrons to follow. Positrons are more difficult to work with though, but the SLAC researchers discovered that not only is it possible to accelerate the antimatter this way, but that it can be done with a single bunch, instead of two. It turns out that the interactions between one bunch of positrons and the plasma will actually generate a wake to accelerate and focus the positrons.

This discovery is a significant step towards electron-positron colliders in the future, and some improved techniques today. Even though the new accelerators may be awhile, this method could be applied to modern accelerators much sooner.

Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

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