Portable particle accelerators may soon become reality

The basics behind the portable particle accelerator concept

Modern particle accelerators are big, to put it mildly -- even the smallest ones tend to occupy large rooms. Researchers at the University of Maryland, however, have found a way to shrink them down to where they're genuinely portable. By shooting plasma with a laser pulse in such a way that they intensify the pulse and create a wake, the scientists can accelerate electrons to near the speed of light without using nearly as much energy as current machines (just millijoules for every blast). With this technology, you'd need so much less equipment and power that you could fit an accelerator on a cart.

Source: University of Maryland, Physical Review Letters

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