German scientists successfully launch the world’s smallest particle accelerator NEA

Scientists have managed to launch the world’s smallest particle accelerator. The success was achieved by scientists from the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) in Germany. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature, writes Space.

We are talking about a nanophotonic electron accelerator (NEA). It consists of a microchip that contains a vacuum tube with thousands of individual “pillars”. Researchers accelerate electrons by directing mini-laser beams at these “pillars”.

The length of the main accelerator tube is 0.5 mm. This is 54 million times smaller than the 27 km long ring of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. As you know, the LHC has helped to discover new particles, including the Higgs boson (or God particle), ghost neutrinos, and the magic meson. The diameter of the tiny NEA tunnel is only 225 nanometers. For comparison, the thickness of a human hair is between 80 thousand and 100 thousand nanometers. The researchers used the miniature device to accelerate electrons from 28.4 kiloelectron volts to 40.7 kiloelectron volts.

“For the first time, we really can speak about a particle accelerator on a [micro]chip,” said FAU physicist Roy Shiloh, who co-authored the study.

The LHC uses more than 9,000 magnets to create a magnetic field that accelerates particles to about 99.9% of the speed of light. The NEA also produces a magnetic field, but does so by directing lasers at “pillars” in a vacuum tube. This magnetic field has a lower strength compared to that produced at the LHC.