Particle energy doubled in just one meter ..

15 February 2007 By Shashank

Imagine a car that accelerates from zero to sixty in 250 feet, and then rockets to 120 miles per hour in just one more inch.

The electrons first traveled two miles through the linear accelerator at SLAC, gaining 42 billion electron volts (or GeV) of energy. Then they passed through a 33-inch long (84-centimeter) plasma chamber and picked up another 42 GeV of energy. Like an afterburner on a jet engine, the plasma provides extra thrust.

The plasma chamber is filled with lithium gas. As the electron bunch passes through the lithium, the front of the bunch creates plasma. This plasma leaves a wake that flows to the back of the bunch and shoves it forward, giving electrons in the back more energy.

The experiment created one of the biggest acceleration gradients ever achieved. The gradient is a measure of how quickly particles amass energy. In this case, the electrons hurtling through the plasma chamber gained 3,000 times more energy per meter than usual in the accelerator.

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