Particle physics gets smaller
03 May 2007
Plans for a prototype of an unusually simple, small particle accelerator have been unveiled by the University of Manchester.
The accelerator will deliver a continuous beam of high energy particles, says the leader of the £8.3 million project, Roger Barlow. 'This is more compact than the synchrotron, and much cheaper and simpler to operate. Once we have demonstrated that the principle works with a prototype, these could be built and run in many more institutes,' he told Chemistry World.
The unique feature that makes the machine so much simpler is that the magnets producing the magnetic field that accelerates the particles run with a continuous current.
'Synchotrons use an alternating current to steer the particles,' said Barlow. 'Although this idea is simpler, it has never been attempted before because there is doubt about what will happen to the beam if the magnets aren't perfectly matched.'
Electron machine with many applications (Emma)
Barlow is keen to emphasize the wide potential uses for his machine beyond particle physics, such as the use of particle beams to deliver radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer. 'This type of accelerator could also be at the heart of a new generation of very intense sources of neutrons for studying the structure of materials and the dynamics of chemical reactions, of interest to physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers and many industries,' he said.
The team hope to complete their prototype, Emma, before the end of 2010.
Enjoy this story? Spread the word using the 'tools' menu on the left.
Also of interest
Device can probe behaviour of ultracold compounds
Australia's only synchrotron has achieved first light, a key milestone for the facility that is due to open in April next year.
Comment on this story at the Chemistry World blog
Read other posts and join in the discussion
The Conform project
The COnstruction of a Non-scaling FFAG for Oncology, Research and Medicine
External links will open in a new browser window