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Technology Stanford researchers manage to put a particle accelerator on a silicon chip

17:01  06 january  2020
17:01  06 january  2020 Source:   engadget.com

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On a hillside above Stanford University, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory operates a Accelerator - on - a - chip technology could also lead to new cancer radiation therapies, said physicist This demands a new approach to engineering based on silicon integrated photonics and lithography.

But particle accelerators are expensive, require scientists to travel from locations all over the world and cannot accommodate all the researchers who submit To make these devices more accessible, a team at Stanford University developed a laser-driven particle accelerator that fits on a tiny silicon

In scientific pursuits, like the search for dark matter, researchers sometimes use high-power particle accelerators. But these giant machines are extremely expensive and only a handful of them exist, so teams must travel to places like the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, where Stanford University operates at two-mile-long particle accelerator. This may change, though. Researchers believe they have developed an alternative: a laser-driven particle accelerator that fits on a silicon chip.

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Traditional particle accelerators use microwave radiation to boost the speed of electrons, but microwaves measure four inches from peak to trough, so they require more distance to nudge electrons along. The prototype particle accelerator created by a team from SLAC and Stanford uses infrared light, which has a wavelength one-tenth the width of a human hair, so it can accelerator electrons in much shorter distances.

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Physicists Go Small: Let's Put A Particle Accelerator On A Chip . An early prototype of the silicon - chip -sized particle accelerator that physicists at Stanford are working on. An accelerator built this way would bring an accelerator 's usefulness within the reach of more researchers .

Researchers have created a tiny prototype particle accelerator , small enough to fit onto a silicon chip . Although it accelerates particles to a far lower velocity than a full-size particle accelerator , it can still produce energized particles that could be used for research applications in chemistry and biology.

But because the wavelengths are so much shorter, the researchers had to make the rest of the accelerator 100,000 times smaller. To do so, they used inverse design algorithms to reverse engineer a silicon chip that could meet those needs. Then, in the silicon, they etched a nanoscale channel and strategic structures, to guide the electrons and bursts of infrared light. The light pulses 100,000 times every second, and as it does, it hits the electrons, accelerating them forward.

For research or medical uses, accelerators need to boost electrons to 94 percent of the speed of light, or one million electron volts (1MeV). This silicon chip prototype isn't there yet. You would need 1,000 of these to reach those speeds. But researchers think they can make a one-inch chip that accelerators electrons to 1MeV, and they plan to do so by the end of 2020.

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Stanford University. Summary: For the first time, scientists have created a silicon chip that can accelerate electrons -- albeit at a The accelerator - on - a - chip demonstrated in Science is just a prototype, but Vuckovic said its design and fabrication techniques can be scaled up to deliver particle

Using an inverted design model, Stanford researchers have flipped the script on mammoth particle accelerators , creating a nano accelerator - on - a - chip . The team used white infrared light, which passes through silicon , to hit and push the particles up to speed as it moves though the nanoscale

Stanford and SLAC compare it to the work engineers once did to compress the power from room-sized mainframes into desktop PCs. They believe it could be used for medical and other scientific researcher. For instance, today, highly energized electrons aren't used for cancer radiation therapy because they are hard to guide and would burn the skin. One of the Stanford researchers, Olav Solgaard, is already working on an application of this chip that would guide the energized electrons through a catheter-like vacuum tube inserted alongside a tumor.

"We can derive medical benefits from the miniaturization of accelerator technology in addition to the research applications," Solgaard said in a press release.

Stanford University, Science

EUV will use plasma and lasers to make next-gen chips .
Microchips are so ubiquitous, it's easy to lose sight of how remarkable they actually are. Something as mundane as a thermostat or singing greeting card contains millions of microscopic structures created in one of the most remarkable manufacturing processes ever developed. The current process has been evolving since around 1977, and works sort of like a projector. Lasers shine light through a mask, which is like the blueprint for the chip, and projects the mask onto light-sensitive chemicals painted onto a slab of silicon.

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