Results of the experiment, conducted at California's Stanford University, could pave the way for table-top particle accelerators that could be used in multiple situations, ranging from security to medical, researchers said in an article published Thursday in the science journal Nature.
Current state-of-the-art accelerators based on radio-frequency technology are huge and expensive, researchers said. Micro-fabricated dielectric laser accelerators offer an attractive alternative because they are smaller, less expensive, easily manufactured and capable of supporting much larger accelerating fields, results indicated.
Stanford's Robert Byer said he and co-workers developed the first high-gradient acceleration of relativistic electrons, using a device powered by a titanium/sapphire laser, which is a less expensive power source than those used in radio-frequency accelerators and can sustain high acceleration gradients for relatively long periods.
The researchers said the demonstration supports the viability of dielectric laser accelerators for the development of more compact and economical particle accelerators.