Downsizing the Particle Accelerator

March 26, 2019

Munich physicists have succeeded in demonstrating plasma wakefield acceleration of subatomic particles in a miniaturized, laser-driven model. The new system provides a broader basis for the development of the next generation of particle accelerators.

Laser physicists led by Prof. Stefan Karsch at the Centre for Advanced Laser Applications at LMU have brought the research on plasma wakefield acceleration technique a step closer to implementation in university research labs.

The plasma wakefield acceleration (PWFA) technique is regarded as a highly promising route to the next generation of particle accelerators. In this approach, a pulse of high-energy electrons is injected into a preformed plasma, and creates a wake upon which other electrons can effectively surf. In this way, their energy can surpass that of the driver by a factor of 2-5. However, many technical and physical problems must be resolved before the technology becomes practical. This is no easy task, as only large-scale particle accelerators, such as those at DESY, CERN or SLAC, are currently capable of producing the driver pulses needed to generate the wakefield.

A team led by Professor Stefan Karsch at the Laboratory of Attosecond Physics (LAP) – a joint venture between LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) – has now shown that PWFA can be implemented in university labs. The new findings will facilitate further investigation of the PWFA concept as a basis for the development of compact, next-generation particle accelerators.

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