Using one of the most powerful lasers in the world, Berkeley Lab researchers have accelerated subatomic particles to the highest energies ever recorded. They used an emerging class of compact particle accelerator that physicists believe can shrink traditional, miles-long accelerators to machines that can fit on a table.
Laser plasma accelerators could create powerful electron beams within a fraction of the space required by conventional accelerators and light sources – and at a fraction of the cost. But fulfilling the promise of “table-top accelerators” requires the ability to tune stable, high-quality beams through a range of energies. Berkeley Lab scientists have demonstrated a two-stage, tunable laser plasma accelerator that meets the goal.