Particle accelerators use electric fields to accelerate elementary particles such as electrons or protons to extremely high energies. Magnetic fields are then used to steer and focus the beam of accelerated particles.
The two standard types of particle accelerators are linear and circular. Linear particle accelerators propel particles across a straight beamline, whereas circular particle accelerators propel particles around a circular track. Linear particle accelerators are generally used for fixed-target experiments whereas circular accelerators are used in fixed target and colliding beam experiments.
The Working Principles of Particle Accelerators
Particle accelerators employ electric fields to increase the speed and energy of particle beams which are steered and focused by magnetic fields. The particles, such as electrons or protons are provided by the particle source and these are accelerated. This beam of particles travels inside a vacuum in the metal beam pipe. This vacuum is a critical part of the procedure as it maintains an environment free from dust and air for the beam particles to travel through unobstructed. Electromagnets are employed to steer and focus the beam of particles whilst it moves through the vacuum tube.
Electric fields which are positioned around the particle accelerators change from positive to negative at certain frequencies and this creates radio waves that accelerate particles in groups. These can be directed at a fixed target which could be a thin metal foil or two beams of particles that are collided.
Scientific Contributions from Particle Accelerators
Over the years, particle accelerators have been a significant tool of discovery for particle and nuclear physics, in addition to scientific fields which use X-rays and neutrons. Particle physicists use particle accelerators to gain a full understanding of the particles which govern energy, matter, time and space.
Particle accelerators are also used to manufacture computer chips and cross-link plastic for shrink wrap. Particle accelerators are used for the modification of material properties including the modifying of plastics for surface treatment as well as pathogen destruction in sterilization of medical equipment.
Additionally, radiation therapy has become an extremely effective means of treating cancer patients. Most of the irradiations are performed using particle accelerators which create electron beams and x-rays and these treatments have improved clinical outcomes significantly.
Particle accelerators also have a role in national security as they are used for cargo inspection, materials characterization and stockpile stewardship.
Manipulation Devices from UHV Design for Use with Particle Accelerators
At UHV Design, we have established ourselves at the forefront of the UHV manipulation device supply for use with particle accelerators. We offer a comprehensive range of tailored solutions for Synchrotrons, FELs and other applications of particle accelerators. Not only do we have the largest range of UHV manipulators in the world, but we are able to quickly and efficiently customize our products to meet exacting standards. If you would like to learn more about how our components can be used with particle accelerators, contact us today for more information.