A team of scientists from Stanford University has developed a revolutionary particle accelerator so tiny it fits on a human hair. We are accustomed to the fact that particle accelerators are gigantic complex installations (for example, the length of the LHC shaft is more than 26 km). And here is a construction only 30 microns long, which allows particles to accelerate to 94% of the speed of light.
The new accelerator has a nanometer-sized silicon channel wrapped in an insulating vacuum shell. With the help of an infrared laser, a pulse is transmitted to the electrons in the channel, which forces them to accelerate. The process is repeated many times, due to which the particles gain tremendous speed.
The main development advantage is that such an accelerator is very compact, and the target area is almost symbolic. This gives hope for the use of the accelerator for delicate operations – for example, for the impact on cancerous tumors. Although the machine produces 1 million electron volts, it is much easier to maintain and safer than its huge brethren.